WWF Malaysia: Wrestle the poachers

Isabelle Lai The Star 30 Jul 11;

PETALING JAYA: There is a desperate need to heighten enforcement efforts against rampant poaching at the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex (BTFC) before tigers and other endangered animals are lost forever.

WWF Malaysia and Traffic claimed yesterday that over 400 wild animals had fallen victim to “relentless illegal hunting” since 2008 due to insufficient enforcement by the Government's district-wide Belum-Temengor Joint Enforcement Taskforce.

They claimed its limited resources within enforcement agencies, nearly non-existent joint patrols and a lack of intelligence-led investigations had resulted in the forest complex “littered with snares and foreign poacher camps, while locals hunt at will”.

WWF Malaysia executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said an increase in enforcement personnel was vital in maintaining constant presence on the ground to prevent poaching.

“We need a set of people who are visibly patrolling and monitoring the area. That is the best deterrent,” he said at the launch of their newly-released documentary On Borrowed Time.

Traffic South-East Asia regional director Dr William Schaedla praised the new Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, saying it was one of South-East Asia's best.

However, he cautioned that it would be useless unless tangible enforcement efforts were made.

He pointed out that there were 80-odd entry points along the Gerik-Jeli highway, which enabled poachers to easily sneak into BTFC.

“If we can secure these points, we'd have won the lion's share of the battle,” he said.

The 10-minute documentary, launched in conjunction with World Tiger Day, showed footage of poachers setting up their traps and camps.

It also showed a male tiger that died shortly after being rescued from a trap.

The 130-million-year-old BTFC is older than the Amazon and Congo Basin, and has one of the highest potential landscapes for tiger survival.

Currently, Malaysia is estimated to have around 500 tigers in the peninsula.

On Borrowed Time can be viewed at WWF Malaysia and Traffic's YouTube pages.

New documentary sheds light on poaching crisis in Belum-Temengor forests
WWF Malaysia 1 Aug 11;

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 29 July 2011 – Malaysia must intensify efforts to stop poaching in the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex or risk losing one of its most important strongholds for wild tigers and other endangered wildlife, warns a newly released WWF Malaysia-TRAFFIC documentary.

‘On Borrowed Time’, launched in conjunction with this year’s World Tiger Day, trains a spotlight on the poaching crisis in Belum-Temengor and calls for the problem to be put on the national agenda.
These forests in northern Perak are of critical importance for the conservation of tigers and other endangered species, yet research and monitoring by WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Southeast Asia since 2008 have documented decimation of the wildlife by relentless illegal hunting, with little standing in poachers’ way.

In the last three years, 142 snares were discovered and de-activated. Over 400 wild animals, such as Sambar deer (rusa), gaur (seladang), pangolins (tenggiling), serow (kambing gurun), elephants and tigers, were poached in the forest complex. Numerous foreign poacher camps were also found inside a protected area.

“We promote places like these as Malaysia’s green gems but when biodiversity is truly under threat, where are her champions? If the silence and inaction continues, it is only a matter of time before the Belum-Temengor Forest Complex is emptied of wildlife. There’ll be little to shout about then,” said Dato’ Dr. Dionysius Sharma, Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.

A district-wide multi-agency enforcement taskforce established to combat poaching and encroachment in the area has taken some steps since its establishment in 2010. However, efforts have been piecemeal at best and ground checks show the problem persists.

Limited resources within enforcement agencies, nearly nonexistent joint patrols and a lack of intelligence-led investigations have left this forest complex littered with snares and foreign poacher camps, while locals hunt at will.

“The bottom line is, if enforcement is not taken seriously, we will lose tigers and myriad other species. There is no excuse for any agency not doing the job. Sharing a treasure means sharing the responsibility to protect it,” said Dr. William Schaedla, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia’s Regional Director.

Dr. Schaedla added, “If Malaysia is to save tigers and other endangered species, the time to act is now. Zero tolerance towards poachers and illegal wildlife traders is essential.”
‘On Borrowed Time’ calls for a revitalisation of the Belum-Temengor Joint Enforcement Taskforce, the pursuit of poachers and encroachers to the full extent of the law and for all agencies working in the area to show equal effort and commitment towards enforcement.

Filmed by award-winning Malaysian documentary makers Novista, On Borrowed Time can be viewed at the respective WWF-Malaysia and TRAFFIC Youtube pages at :

WWF-Malaysia Youtube Channel
Traffic Network