Gerik, Malaysia, 20th January 2016—Close to 1,500 Baya Weavers Ploecus phillipinus have been seized by the Perak Border Security Agency in collaboration with the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN) in Perak near Gerik, northern Peninsular Malaysia.
Two men were arrested during the raid at the Perah Rest and Recreation area after authorities inspected their vehicle and found four large cages with 1,480 Baya Weavers inside them. The birds were allegedly en route to the State capital, Ipoh, for sale.
Baya Weaver, locally known as Ciak Tempua, is native to Malaysia and is protected under the country’s Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. The collection and keeping of the weaver’s unique nest, traded as an ornamental piece, is regulated through a licensing system in Peninsular Malaysia.
Those convicted of illegal possession of a protected species in Malaysia can be fined up to MYR50,000 (USD11,900) or imprisonment for a term not more than two years, or both.
Although this is the largest such incident involving Bays Weavers in recent times, from 2012 to 2015, at least 739 Baya Weavers were reported to have been seized by authorities in Peninsular Malaysia. According to PERHILITAN, the Baya Weaver was the second most numerous bird species involved in seizures in 2015, after the White-rumped Shama Copsychus malabaricus. One trader caught illegally selling Baya Weavers last year claimed the species is thought to bring good fortune to its owner.
TRAFFIC congratulates the Perak Border Security Agency and PERHILITAN on their success in stopping the illegal trade of these birds.
Throughout Southeast Asia, wild-caught birds are in high demand as cage birds, with some species bought and released for merit purposes.
Members of the public in Malaysia are encouraged to report incidences of suspected illegal wildlife activities to the MYCAT Wildlife Crime Hotline at 019-356 4191, or directly to PERHILITAN’s Hotline 1800-88-5151.
Alternatively, they can also be reported through TRAFFIC and Taronga Zoo’s Wildlife Witness App, downloadable from the Apple App Store and Google Play.