Thursday, June 27

Poachers still ravaging M’sia’s wildlife

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THE VICTIM: The three-footed Malayan sun bear. Its injury is consistent with an animal having lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare. — Photo by WWF-Malaysia/Mark Rayan.

PETALING JAYA: Fresh snares set for tigers have been discovered by a WWF-Malaysia monitoring team a mere distance away from the East-West highway in the peninsula.

The discovery came less than a month after the release of a documentary which highlighted the severity of poaching and illegal wildlife trade in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex, said WWF-Malaysia in a press statement yesterday.

“Since early August, 12 snares had been detected and deactivated by the team, with even more expected to be found in the area. Based on the sizes and types of snare, it is very clear that poachers are targeting large mammals such as tigers,” said Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma, chief executive officer and eexecutive director of WWF-Malaysia.

WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia immediately alerted the Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) for the swift removal of these threats to wildlife.

Another camera-trap in the area captured a photo of possible poachers, just a day before the team trekked in to retrieve the cameras and detected the snares. The wire snares were camouflaged so well that the foot of one of the team’s field assistants had gotten caught in it. This photo was shared with DWNP earlier this month to assist in their investigations.

WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia urged the enforcement agencies to be vigilant in their monitoring and to conduct rigorous patrols on the ground as poachers were likely to take advantage of the long break when people were away on holidays, evident from the snares that had been discovered in the past three weeks alone.

“It’s painfully clear that the poachers ravaging Malaysia’s wildlife are getting more efficient. This begs obvious questions about whether enforcement authorities are managing to keep pace with the criminals. Sadly, it appears that they are not. Even simple actions like regular patrolling and establishment of the planned multi-agency task force at Belum-Temengor are stalled,” said Dr William Schaedla, regional director for TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.

More alarmingly, a camera-trap placed in the area had also captured the photo of a three-footed Malayan sun bear. The injury seen in the photo was consistent with an animal having lost a limb while trying to free itself from a snare.

Under the new Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, any person who sets or uses any snare for the purpose of hunting is liable to a fine not less than RM50,000 and up to RM100,000, and imprisonment for a term not exceeding two years.

At the launch of ‘On Borrowed Time’ last month in conjunction with World Tiger Day 2011, WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia called for a revitalisation of the Belum-Temengor Joint Enforcement Taskforce, the pursuit of poachers and encroachers to the full extent of the law and for all agencies working in the area to show equal effort and commitment towards enforcement.

‘On Borrowed Time’ can be viewed on the WWF-My and Traffic network Youtube pages.