Work as a team to curb wildlife trafficking, agencies told

A poacher sits on a banteng bull he just shot at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah. (Danau Girang Field Centre pic)

PETALING JAYA: A political party has urged enforcement agencies to cooperate to tackle illegal wildlife trafficking, saying only teamwork can ensure success.

PSM said the water, land and natural resources ministry should take the lead in coordinating the efforts among the agencies, after the police said they would recommend tougher penalties, including mandatory whipping, for those involved in the smuggling of wildlife.

In a statement today, PSM Central Committee member Sharan Raj said success in curbing wildlife trafficking can only be achieved when the enforcement agencies join forces.

“Airline travel is a key component of illegal trafficking. KLIA and klia2 remain the easiest transit and cheapest point for trafficking activities as revealed by the Wildlife Justice Commission in 2016.

“The Immigration Department, Customs Department and Malaysia Airports Holdings Bhd (MAHB) should work closely to increase inspection at our airports,” he said.

Sharan said the Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) should also be involved.

“Corruption within the enforcement parties should not be taken lightly.

“MACC needs to act on the bribery activities hampering the crackdown on wildlife smuggling activities that are giving Malaysia a bad name,” he said.

Sharan said the rate of prosecution is still low despite the presence of at least 12 acts covering wildlife protection in the country.

“The Attorney-General’s Chambers needs to be more proactive to prosecute poachers and smugglers to deter smuggling activities,” he said.

He also said authorities must go after the masterminds and key traffickers rather than their “foot soldiers” in their efforts to curb wildlife trafficking.

At the same time, local councils must be more stringent in inspecting pet shops and restaurants to prevent the sale of wildlife as pets or food.

Animal welfare activist Lee Lam Thye, meanwhile, lauded the move by the police for tougher penalties against those involved in poaching and wildlife trafficking.

He also welcomed the proposed tightening of conditions for the issuance of firearms licences and hunting permits.