We’ve the route to all evil (Malaysia)


Sim Leo & Hemananthani Sivanandam, The Star 

Date Published


PETALING JAYA: Gangs behind the illegal global wildlife trade are exploiting the wide network of transport services, including those in Malaysia.

Last year alone, there were 353,270 flights in and out of the country from KL International Airport and KLIA2 to 257 destinations.

There were also some 12 million containers coming in and out of Port Klang last year. As such, clamping down on the illegal trade is a challenging task.

While Customs and wildlife officers were placed at these gateways, logistics staff played an important role, said a conservation group.

United for Wildlife Conservation Programmes head Naomi Doak said staff at transport companies, such as airlines and shipment firms, could help address the issues behind the trade, believed to be worth up to US$23bil (RM92bil) a year.

“In many cases, they are the eyes and ears on the ground and they are the people who will see suspicious packages or behaviour.

“It’s only through these staff members that this issue can be addressed,” she told The Star.

She said there were locations in South-East Asia that had wide networking of transport services and many of these were being exploited for the illegal trade and transport.

Doak said the majority of ivory seizures came from shipping.

“This is to be expected, given the weight and volume,” she said.

United for Wildlife is working with the private sector to set up the Transport Taskforce, aimed at getting global transport companies to sign a declaration to stop the trade.

Those who have signed up for the Buckingham Declaration against trafficking included the International Air Transport Asso­ciation (IATA), Air China Cargo Co Ltd, Kenya Airways, Cathay Pacific Airways, Emirates Airlines and Etihad Airlines.

No Malaysian airline or shipping company has signed up for the pledge, which requires that signatories adopt a zero tolerance policy against trafficking, develop mechanisms to enable the timely information of the transport of suspected goods and enhance its data system.

Malaysia has been singled out by conservationists as a transit point for the illegal trafficking of wildlife, especially ivory despite there being no domestic market.

Most of the trafficked goods ended up in the China and Vietnam markets.

Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) enforcement division director Hasnan Yusop said wildlife trafficking mostly took place at airports that used air cargo and postal services.

“There are Perhilitan staff members stationed at most major entry points such as KLIA, Penang Inter­national Airport, Padang Besar, Bukit Kayu Hitam, Pengkalan Kubor, Rantau Panjang, Senai, CIQ Sultan Iskandar and Port Klang,” he said.