BY RHISHJA LARSON
In Malaysia, wildlife criminals can no longer claim ignorance as an excuse for their destructive activities, thanks to the installation of billboards in the heart of illegal wildlife trafficking hotspots.
Photo © WWF-Malaysia
The huge signs are located near the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex, one of the world’s oldest rainforests, located in northern Peninsular Malaysia. “The billboards are part of WWF-Malaysia’s overall efforts to support the enforcement authorities in addressing the poaching crisis which we are now facing at Belum-Temengor,” said Dato’ Dr. Dionysius Sharma, Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.
Wildlife crime crisis
According to the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC, Belum-Temengor’s wildlife is being plundered at an alarming rate. During the last three years, more than 400 animals, including pangolins, tigers, elephants, gaur, and Sambar deer have been killed in Belum-Temengor. In addition, 142 snares have been removed and “numerous foreign poacher camps” were discovered inside a protected area. Last month, two wildlife smugglers were caught with 12 pangolins in an area near the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex.
Photo © WWF-Malaysia
The billboards clearly state the penalties under Malaysia’s new Wildlife Conservation Act 2010. Dr. William Schaedla, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia‘s Regional Director, explained that Malaysia has enacted some of the region’s strongest wildlife protection legislation.
With the inception of the new Wildlife Act, Malaysia now has some of the strongest anti poaching and wildlife protection laws in the region. It’s time to get the message out that this country is serious.
However, he cautioned that the billboards alone would not solve the problem: Authorities must enforce the laws.
The billboards are a great start, but after they go up the authorities will need resources to follow through on the message with action.
Indeed, with Malaysia’s wildlife protection laws clearly posted for all to see, there are no excuses left for criminals – or for the authorities.
Report wildlife crime
To report wildlife crime, members of the public can SMS to 019-356 4194 or email to email@example.com. The information received will be channelled directly to the Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), and caller’s identity will remain anonymous.
Source: Elizabeth John, Senior Communications Officer, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia; photos © WWF-Malaysia
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