Monday, 3 November 2008

Endangered wildlife in Malaysia falls victim to rampant poaching due to 'outdated' laws

Endangered wildlife in Malaysia falls victim to rampant poaching due to 'outdated' laws

mongabay.comNovember 4, 2008

In the face of rampant poaching of endangered animals, conservationists are calling for Malaysia to reform its 36-year-old wildlife protection law.

Four environmental groups — Malaysian Nature Society, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society, and WWF-Malaysia — have launched a petition demanding that the Malaysian government improve and strengthen the country's Protection of Wild Life Act 1972, which the NGOs call "severely outdated and riddled with loopholes".

The petition seeks 100,000 signatures by June 2009. "There is a serious need for the Malaysian government to remedy the loopholes and beef up the law, as many species continue to be poached and illegally traded at alarming rates," states the petition. "Wildlife offenders often escape arrest, prosecution and punishment. We understand that the government is in the process of revising this law. However, we urge the government to seek public input in this process."

The petition says the law should be amended to include bans on products containing parts of protected species as well as tougher sentences and fines for poachers and traffickers. Some conservationists have proposed restrictions on the use of snares which take a heavy — and indiscriminate — toll on wildlife, including threatened species like elephants, rhinos, pangolins, and sun bears.

While the law applies only to peninsular Malaysia, conservationists say it is likely that the Malaysian states of Sabah and Sarawak on the island of Borneo will follow if wildlife protections are strengthened. Beyond hunting and poaching, Malaysia's wildlife is threatened by large-scale forest loss driven by logging and the development of oil palm plantations.