GRAVE CONCERN: 100 points along East-West Highway for illegal hunters to enter Belum, Temenggor forests
KUALA LUMPUR: EASY access into the Royal Belum state park and Temenggor forest reserve along the East-West Highway has allowed poachers to make a killing on the country's rich wildlife.
Connecting the state of Perak and Kelantan, the highway stretches up to 124km between Grik and Jeli.
According to wildlife conservationists, there are more than 100 access points along the road for poachers to enter the forests.
As a consequence, seizures of wild animal parts in the northern part of the peninsula and its borders had raised concerns about poaching activities in Belum and Temenggor.
Almost four times the size of Singapore, the forests are home to 274 species of birds, 100 species of mammals and 69 species of reptiles. It also contains 3,000 species of flowering plants.
Statistics from the international wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic Southeast Asia (TSEA) showed that 122,880 individuals had been caught nationwide for possessing endangered animals between 2001 and last year.
The largest seizure was in 2010, when National Parks and Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) officers confiscated over 26,000 pieces of python gall bladders, 35,000 pieces of python skin and three pangolins in Kedah and Perak.
TSEA senior programme officer Kanitha Krishnasamy said lucrative animals in the wildlife trade such as Malayan tigers, honey bears, Asian elephants, pangolins and leopards could also be found in those forests.
"Since 2008, our information revealed that at least 400 wild animals had been poached and traded illegally in these two landscapes, including tigers, serows, gaurs, pangolins, sun bears, birds and deer."
Members of TSEA, together with the World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia), had discovered and removed 150 snares from the vast forests.
In April 2009, a five-year-old male tiger was caught in a snare set by poachers near the highway and released by Perhilitan officers.
The tiger was found with tears in its eyes and suffering severe injuries. The cable wire from the snare had cut into its flesh when the animal struggled to escape.
It was then sent to Malacca Zoo for treatment but died two weeks later, much to the disappointment of its rescuers.