Published 12 November 2008


Huge haul of dead owls and live lizards in Peninsular Malaysia

Update: More owls, lizards and bear parts seized in January 2009

In a remakably similar case, Perhilitan staff raided a workshop garage on 10th January 2009 in Jalan Bukit Ubi, Kuantan, Pahang state, Malaysia, and seized 319 freshly skinned Owl carcasses, 25 hind legs & 22 paws of Malayan Sun Bear in a refrigerator and 2,330 live clouded monitor lizards. Three men were arrested.

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 12th November 2008—Over 7,000 live Clouded Monitor Lizards and almost 900 dead owls plus other protected wildlife species have been seized in two raids in Peninsular Malaysia.

Almost 900 “oven-ready” plucked owls and other wildlife were seized during raids in Malaysia © Chris R Shepherd / TRAFFIC   

On 4th November, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) staff raided a house in Muar, in the state of Johor, and found in a freezer and storage room 796 Barn, 95 Spotted Wood, 14 Buffy Fish, 8 Barred Eagle and 4 Brown Wood Owls, 2 Crested Serpent Eagles, 51 live Clouded Monitor Lizards, 4 live juvenile Wild Pigs, plus parts of one or more Wild Pig, Malayan Porcupine, Reticulated Python, Malayan Pangolin, Sun Bear and Greater Mouse Deer. 

A local man was arrested and remanded in custody for three days, but pleaded not guilty and was released on bail of MYR19,000 (USD5,300). 

Information obtained during the raid led to a second raid on a storage facility in Segamat, Johor, on 7 November 2008, when 7,093 live Clouded Monitor Lizards were seized, but no arrests made. 

“The number of owls and monitor lizards seized is truly staggering,” said Chris R. Shepherd, Senior Programme Officer for TRAFFIC’s Southeast Asia office. 

“This is the first time we know of where ‘ready-prepared’ owls have been seized in Malaysia, and it may mark the start of a new trend in wild meat from the region. We will be monitoring developments closely.” 

All the animals seized are believed to have originated in Malaysia and were probably bound for China, to be sold in wild meat restaurants. 

All are protected to some degree under Malaysian national legislation, and most are listed in CITES (the Convention on Illegal Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora), with Clouded Monitor Lizard and Sun Bear in Appendix I, which prohibits international trade, whilst most other species, including all the owls, listed in Appendix II, which restricts such trade. 

“Malaysia is home to a vast array of amazing wildlife,” said Shepherd. “However, illegal hunting and trade poses a threat to Malaysia’s natural diversity. 

“TRAFFIC applauds the actions taken by Perhilitan, and urges the public to report cases of illegal hunting and trade to the authorities. 

“TRAFFIC also encourages countries where these cargoes are bound to be vigilant to prevent the illegal import of wildlife from Malaysia and elsewhere.” 

Malaysia is a member of the ASEAN Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN), a partnership that seeks to end illegal cross-border wildlife trade in the region. 


An emerging Asian taste for owls? Enforcement agency seizes 1,236 owls andother wildlife in Malaysia by Chris R. Shepherd and Loretta A. Shepherd. Published in the Oriental Bird Club's bulletin, BirdingASIA