KUALA LUMPUR: Drastic measures against poachers are crucial following a revelation by the police of the involvement of prominent individuals in the illegal activity.
Animal welfare activist Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye also said it was understandable that the proposed drastic action of a shoot-to-kill order against poachers was justified.
“Many Malaysian animals are going to be extinct if no drastic steps are taken to address the issue of killing and poaching, which are getting very critical.
“Hence, we must support the police including their proposal for stricter penalties, include mandatory caning for poaching,” he said in a statement today.
Lee, who is also the patron of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) Selangor, said countries with high biodiversity like Malaysia were becoming transit points for smuggled species.
“The 2016 report by the Wildlife Justice Commission revealed that Kuala Lumpur is the easiest port to move protected wildlife.
“The report also revealed that it costs traffickers 50 per cent less to move contraband through KLIA and klia2, compared to Bangkok’s Suvarnabhumi Airport.”
He said the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime has estimated that the global wildlife trafficking industry to be worth between USD7 billion (RM28 billion) and USD23 billion (RM92 billion) annually.
Lee called for the urgent need to review all existing laws, especially legislations on poaching.
“The government should expedite its plan to amend the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 to imprison poachers for more than 10 years and fine them up to RM5 million upon conviction. It is timely given the rampant poaching cases that threaten protected species.
“(And) the government should also consider mandatory imprisonment not only for poachers but also those charged and proven guilty to be abetting the culprits including VVIPs.”
He said the police’s recommendation for mandatory whipping for those found guilty and tightening conditions for the issuance of firearms licence and hunting permits must be considered as well.
On the enforcement of the law, Lee said the government should strengthen collaboration between agencies including increasing the number of military or police personnel to check and prevent poaching, especially in forest reserves.
“Greater public awareness, better law enforcement and political will are needed to not only prevent poaching activities and illegal wildlife trade but also to avoid over-exploitation of natural resources.
“Protecting wildlife and our nature’s treasure trove is not only the responsibility of the enforcement agencies but requires collaboration across non-governmental organisations, government, corporate stakeholders and local communities.
“We must take immediate action to help conserve our biodiversity which includes more than 15,000 species of flowering plants, 1,500 species of terrestrial vertebrates, and about 150,000 species of invertebrates.”
Lee said efforts to protect the country’s wildlife were are in-line with the year’s Earth Day celebration themed “Protect Our Species”.
“It was intended to educate and raise awareness about the accelerating rate of extinction of various species of fauna and flora.”
Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador had revealed that VVIPs were among poachers who prey on animals, including endangered species in Malaysian forests.