SFC puts major dent in illegal wildlife trade in Kapit

From left: State Security and Enforcement Unit deputy director Datuk Mohamad Morshidi Mustapha, SFC chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton, Len, General Operations Force Sarawak Commander Datuk Khaw Kok Chin and senior forest conservator Azman Mohd Daan at the illegal wildlife trade workshop.

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by Nancy Nais

KUCHING, Oct 9: Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) has solved five illegal wildlife trading cases following the arrest of a local man in Kapit last week.

Its chairman Datu Len Talif Salleh said SFC enforcement officers raided a premises and confiscated 148 pieces of hornbill ivory, 192 pieces of peacock feathers, 183 units of bear bile, 152 pieces of hornbill feathers, 96 porcupine thorns, 16 pieces of pangolin scales, six deer antlers, three barking deer antlers and other various wildlife parts which they have yet to identify.

The 56-year-old suspect was caught red-handed in possession of the said items.

He was later arrested by police and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) enforcement officers when SFC officers were offered a bribe to not take actions against him.

“The other four cases involved selling of wild animals and parts namely 35kg of softshell turtle meat, a live softshell turtle, peacock feather, deer antlers and a bear skull at Teresang market, Kapit,” Len said at the launch of an illegal wildlife trade workshop today.

Len, who is also the Assistant Minister for Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment said since the seized wildlife parts were sold in the local market, it is probably mainly meant for locals.

He also said the wildlife parts could also be meant for the international market as it is a lucrative business, apart from being used as traditional medicine.

Since the investigation is still ongoing, SFC could not yet estimate the value of the seized items.

“Wildlife trading, which can fetch up to millions, is a very lucrative business. We were made to understand that it is either the second or fourth (most widespread) global crime after drugs,” he added.

Some of the confiscated wildlife parts.

In Sarawak, common wildlife traded include the sun bear and pangolin.

Additionally, Len lamented that the Sarawak-Kalimantan border is very porous, making it easier for such illegal activities and that enforcement across the border is weak.

“However, on our side, we will remain vigilant to prevent this trade. We thank the general public for their inside information (given) to the authorities to take action against individuals who have gone against the law.”

In Sarawak, the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998 provides for the protection of wildlife, whereby killing, keeping, selling or buying without licence or permit from the Controller of Wildlife is prohibited by the law.

“The government realises that the protection accorded by the law alone does not guarantee the survival of wildlife. Therefore we must ensure that we are ‘a step ahead’ of these criminals and keep in check activities detrimental to the well-being of wildlife such as poaching,” Len said. — DayakDaily