Serving the public through the Wildlife Crime Hotline ― Quek Yew Aun

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APRIL 7 ― March has been a busy month for Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) especially with the increased volume of reports received through the Wildlife Crime Hotline.

The hotline was conceived in 2010, initially to receive reports of tiger crimes. However, seeing the potential to help other protected wildlife, MYCAT decided to widen its reach to cover any wildlife species. We haven’t looked back since. We are receiving more and more reports every year, from various parts of the country.

Apart from receiving reports from the public, the hotline is used by the Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT) volunteers to report snares and other poaching activity in the Sungai Yu Wildlife Corridor, in Pahang.

The hotline complements the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN) hotline (1-800-88-5151), by offering a 24 hour, 365 days a year outlet for people to channel information.

Based on this information, we are then able to direct them to the best action on a case by case basis. For example, if it is a wildlife crime, we relay this information to PERHILITAN. For a land use problem, the information is directed to the local Land Office.

Here, we would like to share two heartening incidents of how birds, quite possibly destined for the cruel clutches of the pet trade, were saved thanks to conscientious members of the public.

Earlier in March 2017, two totally protected black winged kite Elanus caerulens were found in Bandar Botanic, Klang. Despite being offered a sum of money for them, the people who found the birds did the right thing by contacting the hotline. We relayed this information to PERHILITAN Selangor who promptly rescued the chicks for rehabilitation and release.

In another incident, an injured adult barn owl Tyto alba was discovered by several Universiti Tunku Abdul Rahman (UTAR) students on campus. It appeared to have a broken wing and was unable to fly despite several attempts.

The students found the hotline by simply Googling ‘What to do with an injured owl?’. By following our instructions, they managed to send the owl for proper veterinary care and treatment. Now, like the black winged kite chicks, it has a good chance of being released upon healing.

The hotline is also a means for gathering crucial intelligence. A member of the public who chanced upon the sale of Indian Star Tortoises Geochelone elegans by a pet shop online reported it to the hotline, which helped in the resulting arrest of 5 men in Negri Sembilan.

We laud the actions of these ordinary citizens. You are superheroes in your own right. These two cases also prove the relevance of the hotline in our society today. We would like to think of the hotline as an important link to the chain of events that will eventually lead to a positive outcome.

Not only that, from a macro level, these cases prove that NGOs can work with government to deliver services to the “rakyat”.

MYCAT feels that it is both an honour and a privilege to be able to serve the Malaysian public in this way. Aside from saving wildlife from malicious intentions, we believe that we are helping ordinary Malaysians to carry out their civic duty. And that’s what keeps us going.

We urge the public to remain vigilant. Do report any suspicious activities, wildlife crime or wildlife related issues to the MYCAT Wildlife Crime Hotline 019-356 4194. We promise we will be at the other end of the line, doing our best.

* Quek Yew Aun is a MYCAT conservation officer. MYCAT is the alliance of Malaysian Nature Society, TRAFFIC, WCS-Malaysia and WWF-Malaysia, supported by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia for recovery of wild tiger populations.

** This is the personal opinion of the writer and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.

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