KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysian wildlife officers arrested six Vietnamese suspected poachers and seized a large cache of animal parts, including skins of the critically endangered Malayan tiger.
This happened during a raid this week, officials said Friday.
Pieces of tiger skins, along with skins, claws, meat and other parts from protected bears, a leopard, serow goats and a python were recovered during the raid on Wednesday on a workers’ living quarters in Pahang.
Six Vietnamese nationals, including two women, believed to be poachers targeting the Malayan tiger were arrested and remanded for further investigation.
“This is the biggest raid involving tigers in Malaysia this year, worth half a million ringgit,” said wildlife department chief Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim.
He said the poachers had killed three tigers.
Wildlife officials later told AFP that one of the tigers was a cub.
The Malayan tiger once roamed the jungles of Malaysia in the thousands but is now critically endangered, with fewer than 340 believed left in the wild.
It is also the country’s official animal, and depicted often on national emblems and its coat of arms.
Tiger skins, prized as upscale home decorations, can be sold on the black market outside Malaysia for thousands of dollars.
People found hunting protected wildlife in Malaysia can face jail time of up to five years as well as a fine of up to RM500,000.
Wildlife trafficking watchdog Traffic Southeast Asia senior communications officer Elizabeth John said the find was “heartbreaking”.
“When you have so few, every single one is a massive loss. We don’t have that many of them left,” she told AFP.
“The government needs to invest more on law enforcement if it wishes to save this national symbol.”
Coincidentally, Prime Minister Dr Mahathir Mohamad, attending a function in Bagan Serai, today spoke on the need for a civilised society to not only have feelings of responsibility and concern for human beings but also for animals.
He said society must be sensitive and concerned for the well-being of the animals around them in order to avoid the animals from becoming extinct.
“If we do not care and consider the animals as something that could become extinct, then there will not be any more animal in the world one day.
“That is why we have to preserve the animals in the world.
“Do not be cruel to animals so that they will not become extinct,” Bernama reported him as saying.