Malaysia Blitzes Illegal Wildlife Trade
Thousands of elephant tusks, pangolin scales, live animals and wildlife parts have been seized across Malaysia in major wildlife crime busts.
Most recent was a seizure by the Sabah Customs Department of three tons of elephant tusks and five tons of pangolin scales at the Sepanggar Port on August 29. Customs told press they believed the shipments were from Nigeria, bound for China.
The discovery of this massive shipment comes a month after the agency’s record-setting seizure of eight tons of pangolin scales at the same port on July 29.
A 43-year old local man has been arrested in connection with the latest case.
Meanwhile, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) netted close to 2,000 reptiles and dozens of wildlife parts in two separate operations in the States of Kelantan and Perak. Protected wildlife parts seized in recent weeks by Malaysian enforcement agencies include Tiger teeth and claws as well as derivatives from Sun bears and Sambar deer.
On August 26, officers stopped a Vietnamese national with over 200 suspected wildlife parts of protected species. This included 188 pieces of Sun Bear claws, 21 pieces of sun bear tooth, 17 pieces of tiger claw, eight pieces of tiger tooth, one piece of Sambar deer horn and parts of other unidentified wildlife.
The suspect has been charged under three different sections of the Wildlife Conservation Act and faces fines of between $24,000 and $119,000 and imprisonment of up to five years if convicted.
Perhilitan Enforcement Director, Salman Saaban told a press conference that the agency believed the man was not acting alone and that the Department’s investigations would focus on flushing out the network of local actors.
The NGO TRAFFIC praised the heightened enforcement in the country. Kanitha Krishnasamy, Acting Regional Director for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia, said: “Moving some eight tons of totally protected species banned from trade under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) is a clear indication of transnational organized criminality.
“We urge authorities to bring the full force of the law down on the parties behind the plunder of wildlife in the country and those allowing Malaysia to be abused as a transit hub for the international illegal wildlife trade.”