Tuesday, 28 August 2007

Animal trafficking - a side to Malaysia most tourists do not see.

At the end of this article from Malaysia there is a mention
of a new 'Wildlife Act'. When this was first mentioned
about a year ago it made reference to the new act
including a ban on all entertainment shows using
wildlife. IF this happens, it will be little short
of a miracle. But, with luck it will, and therefore
cover (i.e. ban) the truly dreadful shows using
orangutans in Malaysian zoos. There is little doubt
that this was prompted by the tens of thousands
of postcards sent by concerned people from all
over the world.

Smuggled tortoises dying... during long wait
Fauwaz Abdul Aziz
Aug 25, 07 12:18pm

While the Wildlife Department haggles with officials of the Tanzanian government over the repatriation of smuggled leopard tortoises seized two months ago, about two dozens are believed to have died in custody.

The tortoises, categorised in the United Nations’ Convention on International Trade of Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora’s (Cites) Appendix II, were intercepted on June 12 by POS Malaysia officials.

The officials were suspicious of the parcels - bearing the description ‘claypots’ - that originated from Tanzania.

According to a source, only about 50 of the 76 tortoises confiscated are still alive.

Contacted today, the department’s law and enforcement division principal assistant director Haidar Khan confirmed the death of several tortoises, but expressed uncertainty as to how many exactly have died.

He said the delay was due to the fact this is the first time the Tanzanian government is faced with such a request from Malaysia.

“We are still in negotiations with the Tanzanian authorities over the details of the (repatriation) exercise,” said Haidar.

“The Indian government was quick to arrange for the return of their tortoises because it has done so many times,” said Haidar referring to 385 Indian Star tortoises seized last April. They were eventually sent back to India on an Indian airlines flight.

Wildlife trafficking alarming.
While species on Cites Appendix I are strictly forbidden from being traded except for conservation or research purposes, Cites II species can be traded but under strictly-controlled provisions.

Wildlife officials have said that criminal gangs were using Malaysia as a hub for exporting millions of ringgit worth of wildlife for the Chinese market.

Trafficking of wildlife is said to have hit alarming levels in Malaysia, which has also played the role of source and consumer.

While smugglers of species protected by national laws can be slapped with fines and jail sentences, no action can yet be taken against anyone guilty of smuggling partially-protected species cited under Cites due to the lack of legal provisions in the current Wildlife Protection Act.

The drafting of the new Wildlife Protection and Conservation Act, which would fill the loopholes and contain harsher punishments for infringements of wildlife laws, are said to be in the final stages of preparations.