Letter to editor
Save our wildlife!
January 20, 2009
By Mohd Khan Momin Khan
Former director-general Perhilitan
I am very concerned about the recent poaching of tigers suspected to have originated from Malaysia. The presence of a clouded leopard among the four dead tigers convinced me that they were all killed in the wild. The population of tigers has drastically declined in Thailand, so it would be unlikely for so many dead tigers to suddenly appear from there. The tigers were said to have come from Belum that borders Halabala national park in Thailand. A spokesman from Perhilitan said that Halabala is very well protected.
Poachers from neighbouring countries have been very active here despite Perhilitan stepping up law enforcement. Fifty-five foreign poachers were arrested between 2003 and 2005, mostly in Taman Negara and 12 in Alam Muda in Pahang, Temenggor in Perak and Gubir in Kedah. Many were whipped and given prison sentences from four months to two years. The poachers were young and fit. Our wildlife are at their mercy and they kill everything from fish to wildlife for food and trade. The situation is very grave especially for wildlife with high commercial values.
There are now a lot more wildlife rangers and officers than ever. They must spend more time in the forest instead of combing forest fringes and road sides. There is no substitute for effective law enforcement. A long time ago, Perhilitan logged as many as 4,000 cases each year and about 300 were taken to court, compared with less than the current 1,000 and fewer court cases. It would be great if the Perhilitan director-general himself could go to the ground. Having the top man and other senior officers camping and trekking with them would have a positive effect on field workers.
There are just too many illegal wildlife traders. There is no limit to the number of dealers’ licences being issued annually. The number must be reduced to tolerable levels and a quota set for the purpose. The state of Perak issued only four such licences in the 1970s.
The enforcement of the Protection of Wildlife Act 1972 is crucial and the most important.
Assistance from the army could be expanded to cover all known entries used by poachers into Taman Negara and other forests. It would be excellent training for our soldiers and wildlife rangers would benefit immensely from the joint exercise.
For the cats,
Carole Baskin, CEO of Big Cat Rescue
an Educational Sanctuary home
to more than 100 big cats
12802 Easy Street Tampa, FL 33625
813.493.4564 fax 885.4457
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