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Monday
Feb132017

Malaysia busts wanted elephant poaching gang

Authorities in Malaysia display some of the weapons seized following the arrest of a suspected poaching gang © TRAFFIC Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 13th February 2017—Malaysian authorities have nabbed a gang of seven men they termed the "most wanted elephant hunters" in Peninsular Malaysia together with the seizure of explosives, guns and parts of tusks.

The men, all locals from the northern state of Kelantan, were caught by officers from Peninsular Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks and the Armed Forces in a joint operation near a national park on 10th February.

In two of the vehicles belonging to the suspects, officers found plastic explosives and detonators, guns, other weapons and six cell phones.

Further investigations led to raids on seven premises on 11th and 12th February, which yielded two elephant tusks, dried elephant meat, other wildlife parts, chainsaws and bullets, among other items. In total, over a 160 bullets of various kinds were seized.

‘’With the capture of this group, Perhilitan believes it has crippled a major poaching gang in the State of Kelantan that has been actively hunting elephants, Gaur, Sambar Deer and Serow,” said Perhilitan Director General, Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim, at a press conference today.

He also told press that the gang is believed to have killed at least 15 Asian Elephants over a period of four years and has been on the department’s radar for several years now.

The suspects will face a number of charges under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 and separate charges for the firearms. One of the four guns found was unlicensed and none of the men had a permit to hunt wildlife.

‘’This is a significant victory for wildlife and we congratulate Perhilitan and the Armed Forces for their efforts under the 1Malaysia Biodiversity Enforcement Operation Network programme. We hope the Federal Government continues to see the value of such collaboration and continues to fund it,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Senior Programme Manager for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia.

‘’We also urge authorities seriously to look into the source of the explosives and weapons found in this case. It is a sobering reminder of the lengths to which poachers are willing to go to secure their kill,” she said.

‘’This case highlights how the threat of poaching and illegal wildlife trade should be viewed with a great degree of seriousness by all government agencies concerned with national security,” said Krishnasamy.

Asia’s elephants are under increasing threat largely owing due to habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation, while poaching of elephants for their ivory was reported recently in the East Malaysian State of Sabah, where two pygmy Asian Elephants were found killed with their tusks removed late last year.

Asian Elephants are more threatened and fewer in number than their African cousins: only males carry tusks and therefore any poaching of animals for their ivory leads to skewed sex ratios, severely impacting wild populations.

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