Tight checks on porous Sarawak border to prevent wildlife smuggling

Assistant Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Minister Len Talif Salleh says Sarawak Forestry Corporation has crippled five illegal wildlife trading cases in Kapit.

KUCHING: Vigilance has been tightened at the porous border between Sarawak and Kalimantan to prevent illegal wildlife trade from getting rampant.

Assistant Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Minister Len Talif Salleh said it was common for pangolins to be brought across the border from Sarawak but the problem is still under control.

“We have managed to contain illegal wildlife trade but it still happens,” he said.

He said apart from the two caged sun bears rescued in Demak Laut and Serian, and the black hornbill rescued in Lawas, the Sarawak Forestry Corporation had also successfully crippled five illegal wildlife trading cases in Kapit.

“SFC enforcement officers raided a place and confiscated 148 pieces of hornbill ivory, 192 pieces of peacock furs, 152 pieces of hornbill feathers, 16 pieces of pangolin scales, six deer antlers, three barking deer antlers, 183 pieces of bear bile, 96 pieces of porcupines thorns, and various parts of wildlife yet to be identified.

“A 56-year-old suspect was caught red-handed and a report was made to the police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) officers when the enforcement officer was offered RM10,000 to not take action against him,” he said.

Len Talif said although there had been no reports of sun bears from Sarawak being brought across the border, it was one of the animals being traded illegally.

“So far, no orang utans have been brought across the border and we hope that won’t happen.”

He said most of the wildlife, once they entered Kalimantan, would be sold off in the international market particularly China, Hong Kong, European countries and the United States, mostly for medicinal purposes.

Although Sarawak has the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998 to protect wildlife in the state, they must be a step ahead of the “wildlife criminals”, including poachers.

He said he believed the illegal wildlife trade in the state had international connections.

He said a lot of turtle eggs were being brought into the state from Kalimantan and warned that legal action will be taken against those selling or consuming turtle eggs in the state.

“We don’t want to encourage it. It’s still illegal,” he said.