Published 29 July 2011

New documentary sheds light on poaching crisis in Belum-Temengor

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 29th July 2011—Malaysia must intensify efforts to stop poaching in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex of northern Peninsular Malaysia or risk losing one of its most important strongholds for wild tigers and other endangered wildlife, warns a newly released WWF Malaysia-TRAFFIC documentary. 

‘On Borrowed Time’, launched in conjunction with this year’s World Tiger Day, trains a spotlight on the poaching crisis in Belum-Temengor and calls for the problem to be put on the national agenda.

These forests, in the north of Perak State, close to the border with Thailand, are of critical importance for the conservation of tigers and other endangered species, yet research and monitoring by WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia since 2008 have documented decimation of the wildlife by relentless illegal hunting, with little standing in poachers’ way. 
In the last three years, 142 snares have been discovered and de-activated and more than 400 wild animals, such as Sambar deer (rusa), gaur (seladang), pangolins (tenggiling), serow (kambing gurun), elephants and tigers, have been poached in the forest complex. Numerous foreign poacher camps were also found inside a protected area.

“We promote places like these as Malaysia’s green gems but when biodiversity is truly under threat, where are her champions? If the silence and inaction continues, it is only a matter of time before the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex is emptied of wildlife. There’ll be little to shout about then,” said Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma, Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.

A district-wide multi-agency enforcement taskforce established to combat poaching and encroachment in the area has taken some steps since its establishment in 2010. However, efforts have been piecemeal at best and ground checks show the problem persists.

Limited resources within enforcement agencies, nearly nonexistent joint patrols and a lack of intelligence-led investigations have left this forest complex littered with snares and foreign poacher camps, while locals hunt at will.

“The bottom line is, if enforcement is not taken seriously, we will lose tigers and myriad other species. There is no excuse for any agency not doing the job. Sharing a treasure means sharing the responsibility to protect it,” said Dr William Schaedla, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia’s Regional Director.

Dr Schaedla added, “If Malaysia is to save tigers and other endangered species, the time to act is now. Zero tolerance towards poachers and illegal wildlife traders is essential.”

‘On Borrowed Time’ calls for a revitalisation of the Belum-Temengor Joint Enforcement Taskforce, the pursuit of poachers and encroachers to the full extent of the law and for all agencies working in the area to show equal effort and commitment towards enforcement.

Filmed by award-winning Malaysian documentary makers Novista.