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Arrest Raises Concerns Over Poaching in Belum - Temenggor Forest

A Thai poacher was nabbed with scales of a pangolin and six sacks of agarwood (gaharu) by police on Sunday morning in a forested area just off the Gerik-Jeli Highway in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex, Perak

A Thai poacher was nabbed with scales of a pangolin and six sacks of agarwood (gaharu) by police on Sunday morning in a forested area just off the Gerik-Jeli Highway in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex, Perak. 

Police were acting on information provided by WWF’s Wildlife Protection Unit (WPU), which regularly patrols the area with other enforcement agencies.

The 55-year-old from Chiang Rai, was among a party of five poachers ambushed by police. Four others escaped, leaving behind a camp stocked with 30 kilogrammes of rice and other essentials – indicating they were planning long-term operations.

The man now faces charges under three separate laws. Gerik OCPD, Superintendent Mahad Nor bin Abdullah, confirmed that the poacher would be charged under Section Six of the Immigration Act, for illegally entering the country. The poacher will also face charges under Section 64 (2) (a) of the Protection of Wildlife Act for possession of the Pangolin scales and Section 15 of the Forestry Act, for collecting agarwood without a license.

Cases involving foreign poachers like this one, in Perak’s forests, are becoming an issue of increasing concern, with several cases already documented so far this year.

In May, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) caught three Cambodian poachers in the Bintang Hijau Forest Reserve in Ulu Lawin, near Gerik with several kilogrammes of smoked Wild Boar meat, Argus Pheasant meat and feathers, and agarwood.

That same month in Sungai Mendelum, near the Royal Belum State Park, authorities uncovered poaching camps and confiscated six wire snares, while in March, three Thai nationals were caught with several protected birds in Felda Kelian Intan, in Pengkalan Hulu.

In January, Anti-Smuggling Unit officers detained two Thai nationals attempting to smuggle seven Pig-tailed Macaques from a forested area in Bukit Berapit, near the Malaysia–Thailand border.
These forests are home to many of the world’s most threatened mammals, including Sumatran Rhinos, Malayan Tigers and Asian Elephants. 

According to a scientific report, the Belum-Temengor forest complex is also part of an area of global priority for Tiger conservation, yet it is one of the most accessible areas because of the 80-km long Gerik-Jeli highway that cuts across this landscape, providing hundreds of easy entry points for poachers.

“Together with Perhilitan and Police, the WPU have jointly-removed over 73 snares and arrested nine poachers in the last seven months in this very area.” said Ahmad Zafir, leader of the WPU. “Camera traps set up to capture wildlife pictures for research also often capture photographs of poachers.”

“Intelligence-led investigations are needed to remove the masterminds and backers behind the scourge of poaching and illegal trade,” says Chris R. Shepherd of TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.  Ridding the forests of poachers is an on-going and important task, but it is essential to remove the main culprits behind the scenes – the big dealers running the show.”

“While Perhilitan, police and the WPU have been doing a good job so far, stopping armed poachers is dangerous and difficult work that needs the support of many agencies. I urge the government to form a Task Force , comprising additional enforcement agencies such as the Army, Immigrations, Customs, Perak State Parks Corporation and Forestry Department, to join the fight in Belum-Temengor to stamp out poaching and cross-border encroachment.” said Dato’ Dr. Dionysius Sharma, CEO of WWF-Malaysia.

For further information:

Ahmad Zafir Abdul Wahab, Senior Programme Officer, WWF Malaysia, Tel: 012 5772688, Email: azafir@wwf.org.my

Elizabeth John, Senior Communications Officer, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Tel: (603) 7880 3940, E-mail: jlizzjohn@yahoo.com

About WWF Malaysia
WWF-Malaysia (World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia), the national conservation trust, currently runs more than 75 projects covering a diverse range of environmental protection work. Since 1972, WWF-Malaysia has worked on important conservation projects, from saving endangered species such as tigers and turtles, to protecting our highland forests, rivers and seas. We also undertake environmental education and advocacy work to achieve conservation goals. By conserving our natural resources, WWF-Malaysia is helping to protect our livelihoods, food and water supply, thus securing our good quality of life and our children’s bright future. We thank our supporters whose donations are our lifeblood. If you would like to donate to WWF-Malaysia or learn more about our projects, please call: +603-78033772 or visit our website at: wwf.org.my.

TRAFFIC, the wildlife trade monitoring network, works to ensure that trade in wild plants and animals is not a threat to the conservation of nature. TRAFFIC is a joint programme of IUCN and WWF.


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