JOHOR BARU, Nov 4 — The high demand for exotic animal meat and the premium prices people are willing to pay — up to RM200,000 for a living tiger — is the main reason for illegal poaching activities in the state, said Johor police chief Datuk Ayob Khan Mydin Pitchay.
He said that apart from the illegal hunting of tigers, bears and wild boar, these animals are also hunted to provide meat to 34 exotic restaurants throughout Johor.
“Apart from food, these exotic animals are hunted by illegal hunters as a hobby even though hunting of exotic animals has been banned in Johor, including trapping activities,” said Ayob Khan during a press conference at the Johor police contingent headquarters here.
Present was Johor Criminal Investigations Department (CID) chief Datuk Md Yusof Ahmad and the Johor Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) director Salman Saaban.
Ayob Khan said to prevent illegal poaching from becoming widespread, the Johor police and state Perhilitan had conducted operations by inspecting said 34 restaurants throughout the state that sell and store exotic animal meat.
He said a total of 16 poachers were arrested along with seizures involving various exotic meats through inspections at several premises from August to October this year.
Checks revealed that the 34 restaurants in question have licenses to sell exotic dishes such as lizard meat and wild boar, but it was learnt that several have also been selling the meat of other exotic animals illegally.
Ayob Khan said those found flouting the law have since been investigated under Section 60 (1) of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, the Immigration Act and Local Government By-Laws.
He said all those charged have been sentenced.
Meanwhile, Salman said tigers are considered animals with the highest demand among exotic animal lovers for their alleged medical properties, including strengthening one’s ‘inner energy’.
He said tigers are the most endangered animals and a population study is currently being conducted.
“The price of a bowl of tiger or bear meat soup is between RM200 and RM300. Usually, exotic restaurant owners will receive customer requests or orders for exotic animal meat that they want before being hunted,” Salman revealed.
In August, Johor Ruler Sultan Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar on his official Facebook page expressed anger over poaching activities that are still going on in the state forests including in Endau Rompin, Mersing and Kahang.
Following that, Ayob Khan and the state Perhilitan have actively cracked down on exotic animal hunting and illegal use of firearms in Johor.