POLICEMEN, including those from the General Operations Force (GOF) and Special Branch roped in to fight poachers, need to be exposed to and equip themselves with conservation knowledge.
Malaysian Nature Society vice-president Vincent Chow said there should be training and simulations involving situations where they came across tigers in the wild.
“Will they shoot if they come across a tiger? Do they know what to do? Knee-jerk reactions could be triggered and we don’t want that to happen. I’m no expert on this (firearms), but this has to be considered,” said Chow, who cited his experience spotting a tiger at a riverbank in a national park.
He said local communities should be more engaged in wildlife conservation as “they are the guardians of nature”.
“We can’t blame the locals when they hate tigers for preying on their livestock, but we can educate them so that they have a better understanding of the issue,” he said, referring to the human-wildlife conflict driven by deforestation and lack of food source.
He urged the Education Ministry to consider wildlife conservation as part of the school curriculum.
“Without knowledge, we will not understand the importance of protecting nature and this reflects on the (lackadaisical) attitude.”
Wildlife Conservation Society assistant director Francis Cheong echoed Chow’s sentiment.
“They (GOF personnel) are there to protect wildlife. They must be equipped with conservation knowledge as they carry out their duties. More patrolling is needed in areas identified as hotspots for poachers.
“While I feel that public awareness of the importance of wildlife conservation has improved, more needs to be done to ensure everyone understands the issue and what can be done to help the cause.”
He said collaboration among government agencies, non-governmental organisations, the public as well as the corporate sector was paramount in ensuring everyone was on the same page when it came to protecting nature.
Inspector-General of Police Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador on Sunday said the Senoi Praaq Third Battalion of the GOF based in Bidor, Perak, would assist the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) in protecting wildlife.
The battalion, comprising Orang Asli personnel, was chosen for its jungle-tracking and survival skills.
It was reported that the Special Branch was tasked with tracking down poachers and wildlife traders through a division established specifically for this purpose.