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Zoo Negara is urging the government to introduce the death penalty or life imprisonment for those found guilty of poaching tigers. NSTP file pic

KUALA LUMPUR: Zoo Negara is urging the government to introduce the death penalty or life imprisonment for those found guilty of poaching tigers.

Zoo Negara Malaysia Zoology, Veterinary & Giant Panda Conservation Centre director Dr Mat Naim Ramli said with just 200 tigers left in the wild, it was time to take harsher measures against poaching.

The government, he said, could take the lead from China, which has a zero-tolerance policy on the poaching of giant pandas.

Those found guilty of hunting giant pandas in that country faced 10 years’ imprisonment, or in extreme cases, life imprisonment or even the death sentence.

“The government can deploy the army to protect the critically endangered species, like in India and African countries, to curb trophy-hunting.”

Dr Mat Naim also urged the government to review the Tiger Action Plan and the Central Forest Spine, and follow up on workable initiatives with stakeholders.

Dr Mat Naim Ramli

Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister Dr A. Xavier Jayakumar had expressed concern that the animal might become extinct in less than 10 years.

He said the ministry was amending the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 to imprison poachers for more than 10 years and fine them up to RM5 million upon conviction.

The amendment is expected to be tabled by year-end.

Wild animal poaching, especially tigers, is a longstanding problem for the authorities.

On Thursday, the Kuala Terengganu Sessions Court fined two Vietnamese nationals RM1.56 million for poaching.

Hoang Van Viet, 29, and Nguyen Van Thiet, 26, were also sentenced to two years’ jail after being convicted of 20 charges for illegal possession of threatened and protected animal parts.

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