The government will join forces with other countries to put an end to wildlife poaching and smuggling. Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the authorities would beef up intelligence gathering and enhance multi-agency cooperation in their fight against the illegal ivory trade and other smuggling activities.
“As a member of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) Management Authority, we are aware of what comes in and out of the country. “We support efforts to combat illegal wildlife trafficking, especially ivory trade,” he told the New Sunday Times yesterday.
Wan Junaidi said ivory smugglers had made Malaysia one of its transit countries. Statistics from the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) revealed that there had been 30 cases of seizures since 2011 (four cases in 2011, two in 2012, four in 2013, two in 2014, eight cases last year and 10 cases so far this year).
Wan Junaidi said most of the seizures were carried out by the Customs Department as its personnel were the frontliners at the country’s entry and exit points. He said the ministry would seek assistance from police, army and Customs to address the issue. “Malaysia is one of the world’s transit countries for illegal ivory trade, with its ports serving as a major gateway between Africa and Asia. “We will enhance our intelligence capability and work with enforcement agencies to gather more information on the modus operandi of smugglers. “We need to identify source countries, nab culprits and trace the sender and receiver of the illegal goods.”
Wan Junaidi said he would call for a meeting soon with the Customs Department and other agencies. On measures taken by Perhilitan, he said 9.55 tonnes of confiscated ivory were destroyed onApril 14 to send a message to smugglers that Malaysia did not tolerate the illegal ivory trade. “Working with University of Washington’s Centre for Conservation Biology, Perhilitan has conducted forensic sampling to determine the origin of the seized ivory. “We have established a wildlife forensic laboratory in our collaboration with the University of Washington and TRACE Wildlife Enforcement Network to identify organised crime related to large ivory seizures. “We drafted and submitted the National Ivory Action Plan for Malaysia in 2013 as required by Cites, which is being implemented.”
Wan Junaidi said as border security was not under Perhilitan’s control, it would help the authorities to prevent wildlife smuggling activities. He said Malaysia had emphasised the need for more resources, technical capacity (such as supporting forensic technology) and intelligence-sharing among National Information Assurance Partnership countries. On Thursday, TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network had revealed that Malaysia-linked seizures involved the import, export and re-export of ivory from at least 23 countries and territories worldwide. The high volume of ivory flowing through Malaysia’s ports had flagged it as a country of concern on a global level. TRAFFIC said getting tough on traffickers should be a priority of national enforcement agencies. TRAFFIC’s analysis showed that ivory seizure records from January, 2003 to May 2014 linked Malaysia to 66 confiscations worldwide totalling 63,419kg. Its analysis revealed that only 19 of the seizures were made in Malaysia, and the remaining 47 occurred outside the country, mostly after shipments had passed undetected through Malaysia’s ports.