Saturday, 18 July 2009

ORANG UTANS: A promise of action over wildlife


DR AMERJIT SINGH for Secretary-General Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment, Putrajaya

I REFER to the letter from E.L. of Petaling Jaya on the baby orang utans that were confiscated from Taiping Zoo ("Taiping Zoo staff face the music" -- NST, July 13).


The Department of Wildlife and National Parks shares the concern of the writer and has formally informed Taiping Zoo on this issue. The case is still under the investigation by the department and action will be taken accordingly.

The department would like to emphasise that it is indeed concerned about the illegal possession of wildlife by zoological parks or any person, and will not hesitate to take action against them accordingly.


ORANG UTAN: Taiping Zoo staff must face the music


E.L., Petaling Jaya

RECENT reports of the baby orang utans that were confiscated from Taiping Zoo by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) raise several questions.

How could Taiping Zoo "accept" two baby orang utans without obtaining details of the donor, or ask the donor about the animals?

And why wasn't Perhilitan informed right away?

Assuming it is a properly- run zoo, its staff must have known that this is a totally protected species, in addition to being listed under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna.

The staff who received the animals should have immediately consulted Perhilitan and recorded the details of the donor.

I find it difficult to fathom that Taiping Zoo, whose director is the Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria chairman, would not have staff trained to know what to do in such a situation.

If the investigation shows foul play on the part of the zoo and its officials, they must face the full brunt of the law.

At worst, the zoo is guilty of intentionally trafficking in wildlife and, at best, negligence, poor training and even poorer judgment.


The following is my letter to The Star newspaper, Malaysia, who first broke this story, but the letter remains unpublished. The government exercises censorship over Malaysian newspapers. STOP PRESS. I have though since heard from the Malaysian authorities they are taking legal action against the offenders. I will update everyone on the fate of the orangutans which are currently held by the government as 'evidence'.

From: []
Sent: 05 July 2009 21:37
To: ''
Subject: To the Editor, The Star, Malaysia

Letter For Publication Please.

Caught red-handed - Again

It was encouraging to read of Perhilitan's quick response to the tip off that orangutans were being held illegally

by the Taiping Zoo and a nearby ostrich breeder.

The response from Dr Kevin Lazarus to the confiscation of the orangutans would be laughable if it were not so serious.

Here is a man in charge of a zoo which, by any standard, is notorious for its involvement in the illegal trade of great apes, having previously been caught red-handed with four wild caught gorillas. On that occasion, although after a very prolonged delay the gorillas were returned to Africa, Taiping Zoo, were, inexplicably, never prosecuted by Perhilitan: Even the exporters were prosecuted in Nigeria, not exactly a country renowned for its law enforcement.

Now, after being caught yet again with illegal wild animals, Dr Lazarus wants us to believe he accepted these orangutans out of the kindness of his heart whilst knowing they were illegal. Despite holding these orangutans for three weeks, Dr Lazarus, Chairman of the Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria, no less, seemingly did not think to pick up the telephone and report the matter to Perhilitan.

Does this strike anyone as suspicious?

All of which raises a few questions. This time will Perhiltan have the guts to prosecute the people responsible? It clearly has enough evidence.

Where are the other two orangutans? Maybe it is a coincidence, but in recent months 10 baby orangutans are known to have been smuggled out of East Kalimantan - for every orangutan illegally traded another four will have either died whilst being caught or soon after in transit, a figure which means 40 orangutans have died in this one example alone.

And Malaysian Zoos have previously been found with orangutans from Indonesia. We can only hope this time, and unlike in the past, Perhilitan will not drag its feet on this issue.

Sean Whyte

Chief Executive

Nature Alert