Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) refers to a media interview with the infamous wildlife smuggler some months ago and the revelation that Malaysia is a ‘wildlife hotspot’.
Following the big splash in the media, the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry stepped in to investigate allegations of special permit abuses and probe a high-ranking officer involved in these alleged smuggling activities.
At the same time there were also calls to the police and the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) by concerned groups. There were also calls to the Penang government to reveal details of the special permits issued to this convicted wildlife smuggler for his two tigers.
It has been several months since and much to our dismay, there is complete silence by the ministry, the police and the MACC.
These three agencies must take a serious view of this case as Malaysia’s image has been badly tarnished after being branded as a hub for the multi-billion ringgit global trade in illegal wildlife.
They must wake up to the call by concerned wildlife groups for a thorough investigation and an in-depth study carried out to investigate those involved and to determine the truths in the book ‘The Lizard King’ written by Bryan Christy.
No stone should be left unturned when focusing on every aspect of wildlife crime, from illegal trade and sales to import and export of endangered animals and the department’s association with wildlife smugglers.
Results of the findings should be revealed in all transparency as the Malaysian public has a right to know the details of the findings by these three agencies responsible for upholding law and order.
It is the sole responsibility of the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and Department of Wildlife to promote effective wildlife law enforcement, nationally and internationally
What is needed is an overhauling of the policing of the illegal wildlife trade and an urgent need for the monitoring of traffic in Malaysian wildlife in illegal markets overseas, or else no one will know the extent of the trade.
The issuance of ‘special permits’ which regulate the collection of local and foreign animal species and permits the keeping of totally protected species by zoos, theme parks and private individuals should also be examined closely.
There is certainly an absence of monitoring mechanism of how and where endangered species are sourced from or how they ended up in such animal establishments. The granting of special permits to these establishments will only perpetuate the trade in illegal wildlife.
SAM calls on the Ministry, Police and the MACC to release the findings of their investigation into the case which is long overdue.
The writer is president, Sahabat Alam Malaysia.