More Needed to Curb Pangolin Trade
This month, the State’s authorities successfully seized over RM8 million worth of pangolin in Sepanggar and Tamparuli, creating a strong impact in furthering conservation efforts here in Sabah.
WWF-Malaysia thanks and applauds the hard work of the various enforcement agencies involved in the investigation and eventual capture of a man linked to a syndicate that authorities believe has been operating for seven years.
For the pangolins, this crackdown is both a story of success and of failure. Success as it puts an end to years of ruthless hunting and killing of pangolins by one syndicate. But failure as it displayed the severity of the problem where thousands of pangolins are hunted, killed and sold both locally and internationally, in the form of organised crime.
“Tackling wildlife crime in Sabah has been a constant challenge and it requires a long-term mechanism and committed resources. Based on this recent capture and other cases over the years, there is a need to seriously look into setting up a wildlife crime bureau to confront organised wildlife crimes in a systematic and consistent manner. The criminals are organised, can the enforcement effort afford to be any less organised?” stressed WWF-Malaysia’s interim Head of Conservation in Sabah, Tan Hui Shim.
“Pangolins are not only a national heritage. They are also an integral part of our forest ecosystem as soil caretakers and natural pest controllers. A pangolin uses its elongated claws to burrow underground for shelter and food. This act mixes and aerates the soil and thus improving its quality, allowing lush vegetation to grow. A pangolin also consumes over 70 million insects, mostly termites, per year, making them one of nature’s best pest controller,” Hui Shim said.
“It is therefore vital that we increase our efforts to protect pangolins before they succumb to extinction,” she added.
WWF-Malaysia has collaborated with the government over the years on numerous enforcement work including the joint patrolling of protected areas as well as capacity training for enforcement officers on the ground. The organisation will continue to work closely with government agencies towards conservation outcomes important for people and nature, including the fight against illegal wildlife trade.
“The survival of our wildlife is a shared responsibility. Illegal hunting, selling and possession of wildlife parts and other crimes against wildlife are detrimental to the wellbeing of our environment. Upon conviction, maximum penalty should be imposed to those caught in possession of protected species to match the severity of these crimes.”
The organisation also echoes the Deputy Chief Minister cum Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Christina Liew’s call for a change in public perception towards wildlife and views it as an asset in need of protection.
WWF-Malaysia urges members of the public to refrain from buying or consuming wildlife products and report to the authorities if they see wildlife on sale.
“We can all do our part to ensure that pangolins, sun bears and other wildlife live on in forests and not sold in the market for its body parts.” she said.
- Ends -
For more information, please contact:
Elaine Clara Mah
Tel: +6088 262 420 Ext. 121