Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 3rd March 2017 – Wildlife authorities in Malaysia have arrested five people and seized 209 live wild animals destined for the illegal exotic pet trade, the vast majority of them songbirds, about to be smuggled out of the country by a single trader.
In one of five separate operations in the last two weeks of February, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) officers foiled an attempt in the east coast State of Pahang to smuggle 156 White-rumped Shamas Copsychus malabaricus, three Common Hill Mynas Gracula religiosa and six Red Junglefowls Gallus gallus.
The White-rumped Shama and the Common Hill Myna are among the 28 species listed as being in need of priority action in the Conservation Strategy for Southeast Asian Songbirds in Trade that was launched last month at the 2nd Asian Songbird Trade Crisis Summit, co-organized by TRAFFIC and Wildlife Reserves Singapore.
Perhilitan also arrested a Bangladeshi national at Kuala Lumpur International Airport carrying 35 Black Pond Turtles Geoclemys hamiltonii in two suitcases. The species is listed in Appendix I of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), meaning international commercial trade in it is prohibited.
The man had arrived on a flight from Dhaka, Bangladesh. He has been charged under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 and released on bail pending trial, Perhilitan Director-General Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim told a press conference today. The bail of MYR12 000 (approximately USD2,790) was paid by a Malaysian national, Abdul Kadir added, saying the case would be heard at the end of March.
In other raids, officers seized one juvenile Small-clawed Otter Aonyx cinereus and a Common Palm Civet Paradoxurus hermaphroditus from a local woman and four birds of prey from another local woman which included a Crested Goshawk Accipiter trivirgatus, a Changeable Hawk-eagle Nisaetus cirrhatus, a White-bellied Sea Eagle Haliaeetus leucogaster and a Black Eagle Ictinaetus malaiensis. They also confiscated a juvenile Saltwater Crocodile Crocodylus porosus from a local man.
All three people were located in separate towns in the State of Selangor and all will be charged under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.
Collectively, the five arrested could face penalties of up to MYR850,000 (approximately USD197,670) if convicted.
Young encouraged to show their love for wildlife
“The string of successful busts over the past year is a testament to vigilance. We congratulate Perhilitan for continuously fighting this battle and hope that these offenders, if found guilty, would face the full brunt of the law because the hundreds of animals poached from the forests or smuggled out of the country is no small matter,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Senior Programme Manager for TRAFFIC in Southeast Asia.
“We warn those keen on keeping wildlife as pets to adhere to the law. Those who insist on flouting the law will be severely dealt with and be brought to justice,” said Abdul Kadir.
Referring to the World Wildlife Day 2017 theme that centres on youth, he also urged Malaysia’s young who illegally kept or trafficked wildlife through social media to change their mindset and show their love for animals by protecting them in the wild, rather than capturing and caging them.