Huge returns spur wildlife trafficking (Malaysia)


Astro Awani

Date Published

KUALA LUMPUR: Huge returns in wildlife trafficking is the reason smugglers are undaunted by the prison sentences and fines of hundreds of thousands of ringgit.

The demand for live or parts of wild animals is high because they can be used in a wide range of applications from ornaments to exotic food and traditional medicine.

Peninsular Malaysia National Parks and Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) director-general Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said a kilogramme of elephant tusk could fetch between RM5,000 and RM10,000 depending on the quality.

“Normally, the weight of each tusk could reach between 10 and 15kgs. It is durable, easy to carve and not easily broken.

“The high demand and value in local or international markets often make the wildlife being the target,” he told Bernama in an interview.

Abdul Kadir said wildlife trafficking was often carried out by syndicates and Malaysia was used as a transit point before the prohibited items are smuggled into other countries such as Thailand, Vietnam, the Philippines and China.

As of June, 36 cases of smuggling attempt, which involved foreigners and locals, using air, water and ground routes were foiled.

“A total of 222 wildlife trafficking cases have been thwarted from 2011 to last June,” he added.

According to Abdul Kadir, convicted smugglers were often being imposed hefty fines of not less than RM100,000 and not more than RM500,000 but they would pay the fine because the profits were more lucrative.

Among the wildlife targeted by smugglers are pangolin, white-rumped shama, common iora, clouded monitor and also various species of snakes and turtles.

He said wildlife trafficking was a cross-border crime and the modus operandi of the syndicates was very complex and constantly changing to avoid being detected by the authorities.

“Now social networking sites such as Facebook and WhatsApp have become a trend as these facilitate the interaction between the suppliers and buyers,” he said, adding that the Perhilitan intelligence team was working closely with other agencies to curb wildlife smuggling.