Malaysiakini Letter

Who is the illegal tortoise importer in Malaysia?

Jennifer Yeap & Sean Whyte  |  Published:  |  Modified:

In recent months, weeks even, there have been numerous arrests, mostly in India, of individuals, some Malaysian, some not, attempting to illegally smuggle hundreds of tortoises into Malaysia.

Actually the smuggling has been going on for a great many years, with Perhilitan and Customs officials turning a blind eye.

Why a blind eye? Good question. What do you think is the reason why government officials in key jobs allow illegal wildlife into Malaysia?

If you know who the smuggler(s) and/or government officials are, will you please tell us? Anonymity is guaranteed.

Even if you see any species of tortoise on sale in a pet shop or on the Internet, we would be grateful if you will inform us so we can check it out.

There are laws designed to prevent such smuggling, but as you probably know, they are not enforced. Which explains why Malaysia is very well known as a hot-spot for the illegal wildlife trade.

Remember all that ivory? It only came to Malaysia because someone with immunity from arrest is able to import it. No one knows where the ivory is now - for all we do know the illegal importer may be hoarding it, or even already sold it.

Perhilitan refuse to allow the ivory to be inspected by experts, or to have it destroyed, so we must assume the worse and the ivory may have been sold long ago.

There is also an international convention known as CITES which is able to punish countries which do not fulfil their international obligations regarding law enforcement and the illegal wildlife trade. Sadly, CITES officials appear impotent by choice and they are part of the problem, not only concerning Malaysia.

You can be part of the solution if you report to us any suspicious wildlife you see for sale anywhere in Malaysia. Thank you.

SEAN WHYTE is the chief executive of Nature Alert, and JENNIFER YEAP is with Malaysian Friends of the Animals.


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