Published 31 October 2023

Successful detection rises in effort to stamp out wildlife smuggled in the mail

More wildlife smuggled through the mail is being detected at Malaysia’s main gateway for all international mail, thanks to a four-year joint project between Pos Malaysia Berhad and TRAFFIC to curb such smuggling.  

In a recent workshop aimed at sharing best practices with industry players in the postal and courier industry, Pos Malaysia highlighted a ten-fold increase in the interception of parcels containing wildlife at the Pos Malaysia International Hub. The numbers have risen from just three parcels in 2019 to 32 parcels by July 2023. 

 All interdictions took place at the Pos Malaysia International Hub, prior to packages leaving the Hub. The intercepted wildlife included a variety of animals such as tortoises, lizards, snakes, butterflies, and tropical fish. These animals were destined for various international locations, including the Philippines, Hong Kong SAR, mainland China, and the US.  

“We are very proud of Pos Malaysia's achievements, and we hope that their actions and commitment to address this issue will encourage other companies in the industry to do the same,” said Renee Yee, Training and Capacity Building Officer, who led the project for TRAFFIC.  

Apart from showcasing their success, Pos Malaysia also emphasised the need for more involvement from the industry.   

Having experienced snakes in one of our delivery vehicles, we know that wildlife trafficking via post poses a danger to our staff. Postal services are one of the main mediums to smuggle wildlife. So, if we want to put an end to this illegal trade, it is important for all of us in the industry to collaborate."

Mr Abd Razak Abd Rahman, Pos Malaysia's Manager of Operations Improvements and Excellence

The Out of the Box: Removing the Risk of Wildlife Smuggling from Malaysia’s International Mail Service project, funded by the United States Department of State, Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs (INL) has facilitated extensive awareness, training, and capacity building for postal staff. It has also led to the development of about 20 tools and materials that are being incorporated into the company’s long-term training programmes.  

A selection of these resources was demonstrated and shared with 16 other postal and logistics companies during the recent “Best Practice Workshop to Remove the Risk of Wildlife Smuggling from Malaysia’s Postal Services”, which marked the close of the Out of the Box project.  

Training materials used during the workshop.

This workshop was co-organised by the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC)’s Postal, Courier, and E-Commerce Services Division, the Association of Malaysian Express Carriers (AMEC), Pos Malaysia Berhad, and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia.  

During the opening speech, MCMC’s Chief Development Officer, Ms Bawani Selvaratnam, emphasised the regulatory body’s commitment to strengthen efforts against the trafficking of wildlife via postal services in Malaysia. She shared that the Ministry of Communications and Digital recently endorsed the establishment of a new Postal Security Expert Group to address the illegal use of postal and courier networks, and reflected that wildlife trafficking concerns could be considered within its remit. 

The workshop was attended by 55 participants representing wildlife authorities, MCMC, the Ministry of Natural Resources, Environment and Climate Change, Pos Malaysia and 16 other postal and courier companies.  

The diverse gathering provided room to network, raise issues, and discuss possible solutions, with a specific focus on steps the private sector can take to prevent their services and facilities from being misused to smuggle wildlife.  

Wildlife agencies representing Peninsular Malaysia, Sabah, and Sarawak raised issues related to the challenge of obtaining accurate sender information, which hampered investigations and enforcement actions. 

Since the workshop, TRAFFIC has been approached by other mail and courier companies that attended the event and continues to provide training on this issue.