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PETALING JAYA, Oct 18 — Wildlife conservation groups were outraged at the apparent killing of a protected Malayan tiger by poachers and demanded beefed up security to prevent further poaching.
World Wildlife Fund (WWF) chief executive officer Datuk Dionysius Sharma warned inaction would see the extinction of irreplaceable fauna unique to the country.
“Other countries like Nepal have recognised this problem and have employed the help of their army to safeguard their wildlife,” he said.
“We should also look into doing something similar on a more permanent basis as ad-hoc and periodic patrols of our forests will not be able to detect, halt or deter these cases.”
He said those involved in the trade had become increasingly bold in breaking the law due to the apparent lack of serious enforcement efforts.
Dionysius also said the incident appeared to involve Orang Asli and WWF had in the past reached out through community initiatives.
“We hope they will be able to take on a more proactive role in helping authorities stop poachers, especially since their lives are intertwined with the forest ecosystem,” he said.
“The Orang Asli have deep knowledge of forests. They would be excellent ‘eyes and ears’ for the authorities to combat wildlife crime,” he said.
However, Dionysius said these efforts needed to be shored up with other efforts to have an impact on the killing of tigers specifically and the wildlife trade in general.
“There is no single solution to these problems. Intelligence gathering, anti-poaching patrols and other measures must be used in combination,” he said.
On Friday, pictures showing a tiger, believed to be from Pahang, being caught and butchered, and would likely end up on the black market for its bones and organs.
Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MyCat) founder Kae Kawanishi said the incident highlighted the threat Malayan tigers faced from poaching.
“The Malayan tiger population in the wild is critically low. We understand the authorities are doing their best, but a greater effort must be made,” she said.
“The possibility of trafficking syndicates hiring Orang Asli to do their dirty work is disturbing. They must be made aware and shown how they are being exploited,” she said.
Kae also said there needed to be a unified effort to stop the killing of tigers and that members of the public needed to come forward if they had information.
“All available resources must be roped in, from the Orang Asli, the authorities and the general public,” she said.
Malaysian Nature Society president Henry Goh said the killing of a totally protected animal like the Malayan Tiger deserves the maximum penalty.
“We need a public awareness campaign and cooperation from the mass media to address this critical situation,” he said.
“There must also be severe enforcement against poachers and maximum penalties on offenders imposed.”
Those with information are urged to contact the Wildlife and National Parks Department at 1-800-88-5151, email the department atwww.wildlife.gov.my or call the MyCat hotline at 019-3564194.