LETTER | WWF-Malaysia commends the Malaysian government’s anti-poaching and wildlife trafficking efforts, following the statement of Energy and Natural Resources Minister Shamsul Anuar Nasarah that a total of 64 poachers have been caught since early this year.
Malaysian forests are a haven for biodiversity, and protecting these forests from illegal poaching and other damaging activities will have a positive effect that not only saves our wildlife, but also the forests that we rely on for our natural resources. In this age of climate uncertainty, we cannot afford to allow our natural resources to be plundered.
Poaching is the greatest threat to wildlife conservation in Malaysia. The critically endangered Malayan tiger is on the verge of extinction and various other wildlife are under threat; hence, there is a dire need to make proactive changes for the benefit of wildlife protection.
Although ongoing efforts to address poaching have increased, there remains a great demand for exotic wildlife and wildlife parts. If deterrent penalties are insignificant and culprits do not face the full extent of the law, Malaysia will suffer from an Empty Forest Syndrome - a condition where forests are still intact, but are devoid of wildlife.
The Ops Khazanah task force, a multi-agency cooperation jointly led by the Royal Malaysian Police Force and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, has already carried out numerous successful joint operations and apprehended dozens of suspected poachers in Perak, Pahang, Terengganu, Johor and Kelantan since its launch in September.
WWF-Malaysia feels that these ongoing efforts have been successful, despite the limited amount of resources, and we call for continued support for the operation and from the relevant agencies.
With fewer than 200 Malayan tigers left in the wild, protection of this species must be prioritised. Saving our tigers creates a domino effect on other species, as they are apex predators and help to maintain healthy and intact natural forests. Illegal wildlife trafficking is also on the rise, and is the most immediate threat to wildlife in Malaysia. Cracking down on illegal wildlife trafficking doesn’t just protect species, it helps safeguard the people’s well-being and lives.
In view of this, WWF-Malaysia stresses the urgent need for the formalisation and establishment of a Wildlife Crime Unit within the Malaysian police force, in order to effectively combat poaching and illegal wildlife trafficking. This unit could function to gather intelligence on poaching syndicates, which are part of the larger global illegal wildlife trade network.
This would ensure that legal action is followed through, right from the evidence collection stage to the prosecution process. In most reported cases, those who were prosecuted for hunting endangered species could have been working for foreign syndicates. Putting a stop to these syndicates should be made a priority, apart from penalising those who are guilty of committing wildlife crimes.
WWF-Malaysia is confident that, aside from the successful efforts of Ops Khazanah, the establishment of a wildlife crime unit would be an important step towards effectively stopping poaching and wildlife trafficking activities in the forests. If we do not invest the necessary resources to conserve and protect our natural heritage now, we stand to lose them forever.
WORLD WIDE FUND FOR NATURE-MALAYSIA (WWF-Malaysia) was established in 1972. It currently runs more than 90 projects covering a diverse range of environmental conservation and protection work, from saving endangered species such as tigers and turtles to protecting our highland forests, rivers and seas.
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