Wildlife authorities in war against tiger poachers
By IVAN LOH
Published: Friday October 9, 2009 MYT 2:42:00 PM
IPOH: The Perak Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has uncovered and destroyed 47 snares meant for tigers near the Royal Belum rainforest this year alone.
State Perhilitan director Shabrina Shariff said the traps were found during its anti-poaching initiative Ops Jerat conducted since early this year.
“The latest was the trap that snared a tiger near the Royal Belum forest reserve on Saturday,” said Shabrina.
A five-year-old 120kg tiger was caught in a snare near the Royal Belum rainforest, seriously injuring a right limb. It is currently being treated at the Malacca Zoo.
“There could also be more traps that we have yet to find in the forest,” Shabrina said.
Shabrina said anti-poaching operations are carried out three times a month and 24 in total have been conducted along the East-West highway near the Royal Belum rainforest.
“Up to October, we have arrested five people for possessing snares,” said Shabrina, adding that two men from Kelantan were also arrested early this year for buying tiger parts in Grik.
“We recovered tiger skulls, bones, fangs and claws from them and are still discussing with the state public prosecutor office for action to be taken against them,” she said, adding that there are currently only between 30 and 40 tigers left in Royal Belum rainforest.
Shabrina said Perhilitan would continue to search and destroy snares.
“We will also put up cameras at tiger hotspots, while our officers will go undercover to obtain more information on poachers,” she said.
WWF species conservation manager Reuben Clements said tiger poaching activities were rampant based upon the number of traps found and tiger parts recovered.
“The Federal Government needs to set up anti-poaching task force to secure key tiger-populated area in the long run,” he said, adding that the Royal Belum rainforest was among three priority areas identified in the National Tiger Action Plan.
Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic South-East Asia regional acting director Chris R. Shepherd said Malaysia still has a healthy number of tigers.
“That just means that poachers are going to turn their sights on Malaysia,” Shepherd said.
“The population of all tiger species in South-East Asia has dropped, which is already a blow to conservation efforts,” he said, adding that South-East Asian countries should work together to save the tiger from extinction.
He said heavier fines should be imposed to prevent poaching and the illegal trading of tiger parts, and urged the public to play their part by reporting poaching activities.
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