Malaysian Police adds its weight to tackling the illegal wild meat trade
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 19th August 2020—Malaysia’s top police officer today gave district police chiefs a one-month deadline to track down and report restaurants selling wild meat illegally in their jurisdictions, in a bid to step up the country’s fight against wildlife crime.
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Abdul Hamid bin Bador also said chiefs who failed to meet the September 18th deadline for reporting could face action.
He announced the directive at a press conference following a meeting of a national multi-agency task force on combating wildlife crime known as Operasi Bersepadu Khazanah (OBK) saying the move was meant to demonstrate the government’s seriousness in tackling the issue of illegal hunting and trade of wild meat throughout the country.
The OBK’s operations are jointly led by the Royal Malaysian Police and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN), along with the Royal Malaysian Customs, Forestry Department as well as other federal and state enforcement agencies across the country, supported by various NGOs.
Hamid said the reports from district police chiefs would inform future joint action with PERHILITAN to shut down premises illegally selling exotic meat.
He went on to warn those threatening enforcement agencies or NGO personnel carrying out their tasks on the ground against illegal hunting and trade that Police would not hesitate to act.
The Inspector-General of Police also reported that since the initiation of OBK, the provision to hunt wildlife had been cancelled in over 3,570 firearms licences in Peninsular Malaysia to curb the use of licensed firearms for hunting.
This essentially means licensees may no longer use their weapons to hunt wildlife but may use it to protect crops from being raided by wild animals or to defend against other dangers. He further stated that Police will consider pulling back rifle ownership licences as these were found to be commonly used for illegal hunting.
Although COVID-19 restrictions have impacted movement and activities across the country, enforcement effort has been ongoing. During the press conference, the Director-General of PERHLITAN Dato’ Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim reported that at least two investigations under the Anti-Money Laundering, Anti-Terrorism Financing and Proceeds of Unlawful Activities Act (AMLAFTA) are ongoing involving suspects that were arrested in 2019 and 2020. Assets seized so far are valued at around MYR2 million (USD500,000).
So far this year, PERHILITAN has nabbed 86 suspects, including a wanted suspect believed to be behind the poaching and smuggling of tigers, elephants and other wildlife. Authorities believe this suspect will aid in the investigation of other cases, including elephant poaching cases over the last three years.
Over 70% of those nabbed were Malaysians, while others were from Indonesia, Cambodia, Viet Nam, and Sudan. Hundreds of wildlife and their parts have been seized and over 543 snares have been deactivated and destroyed.
In 2019, at least 36 case files were opened involving the arrest of 82 suspects, while 460 snares were destroyed.