PUTRAJAYA, July 28 — Inspector-General of Police (IGP) Datuk Seri Abdul Hamid Bador has committed 500 police general operations force (GOF) personnel to assist the Wildlife Department in tackling poachers.
This commitment came after discussions held earlier this month to form a joint action force comprising the police and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) to prevent the poaching and sale of protected wildlife.
“The support that we can offer on this joint action force is in terms of manpower.
“I have met with the home minister (Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin) and he ordered me to meet with the Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister (Dr Xavier Jayakumar), for further engagement).
“As the IGP, I’m commuting a GOF battalion based in Senoi Praaq, Bidor, Perak. One more battalion will be on standby,” he told reporters after the launch of the Global Tiger Day 2019 here at Le Meridien Hotel.
Abdul Hamid said the GOF are experts in tracking and are used to the forest’s surroundings.
“The GOF battalion will assist Perhilitan personnel, who had always faced challenges in keeping the poachers out, while their lives are also threatened by the poachers.
“At the same time we will offer training to the Perhilitan officers, which includes handling firearms. Both the GOF and Perhilitan personnel will be allowed to open fire when threatened by poachers.
“We will be meeting Perhilitan to discuss and come up with proper SOPs on this,” he added.
Spearheaded by the Water, Land and Natural Resources Ministry, this is one initiative to tackle the rampant encroachment of poachers in areas including Taman Negara, Royal Belum rainforest and Endau Rompin National Park.
Meanwhile, Dr Xavier said the Ops Belang conducted by Perhilitan saw the arrest of 24 individuals believed to be poachers.
“One group has been convicted and sentenced to 18 years jail, and another one in the process (to be charged at court),” he said.
The Ops Belang was initiated under the Save Our Malayan Tiger campaign this year.
He also pointed out that it was important that Perhilitan officers are allowed to use firearms, citing the success in India and Tibet.
“In India the only way they doubled the tiger population, because they have armed guards and been given the right to open fire at poachers,” he said.
Apart from the joint action force, Dr Xavier reportedly said his ministry plans to propose amendments to the Wildlife Conservation Act to double the fines and jail terms related to wildlife offences.