Tuesday, 9 February 2010

Save endangered species by snuffing out demand

Malaysiakini 9th February Malaysia

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) refers to the proposed decision by the Natural Resources and the Environment Ministry to take over the issuing of the special permits to keep endangered species from the director-general of Perhilitan.

Having voiced our concerns in the past as to the number of endangered and totally-protected species found in theme parks and private zoos, SAM would like to see an end to the issuing of such permits.

Wildlife species that are already endangered and rare should not be granted any permits. However, permits could be considered for rescue centers for confiscated wildlife (of which there are none in Malaysia) provided they demonstrate extremely high standards of physical security, staff expertise, housing and animal management.

SAM is concerned about the sheer scale of animal suffering that will arise in permitting private individuals, all animal establishments including theme parks and resorts to keep endangered pets either as status symbols or for public entertainment.

Despite letters highlighting our stand against the keeping and sale of exotic animals and wildlife as pets, exploitation of the use of animals as a form of entertainment and the trend to keep wild animals as pets continue.

The high mortality rates associated with the capture and transport of wild animals and the serious depletion of wildlife populations are reasons enough to prohibit the keeping of wildlife as pets.

Once the owner of a wild animal is no longer willing to care for it, the animal released may not adapt to a wild environment or it may create havoc in the local environment. Moreover, there are no adequate facilities or animal sanctuaries for unwanted wildlife to go too.

Species continue to face threats to their existence. Rather than finding ways to work with foreign countries to conserve and protect species from human threats, the ministry and the wildlife department proposes to allow imports so that pet shop traders and traffickers can take advantage of the exotic pet market.

Moreover, the six-month grace period announced by the department earlier allowed for the application of licencing of endangered species which will lead to all kind of abuses by the animal traffickers and traders taking advantage of all the existing loopholes for their own benefit.
The ministry and the Wildlife Department should do everything in their power to protect endangered species in their natural environment and seek views on proposals to ban the keeping of endangered species in the country including the issuing of licences for primates to be kept as pets.

The world's most endangered species - primates, birds, and rare plant species - are at great risk from the illegal wildlife trade.

An important part of stopping the illegal trade in endangered species specimens is by stopping the demand - both for live animals and plants and for specimens and products.

The writer is president, Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM).