Malaysia: Licences a must soon for all who keep exotic animals

S.S. Yoga The Star 11 Aug 11;

KUALA LUMPUR: All premises housing wildlife, including pet shops, will now have to apply for permits to continue operating under the new Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) director-general Datuk Abd Rasid Samsudin said even individuals keeping wildlife would be required to apply for permits.

“Pet shops have to do so. Currently, all they need is a licence from the local council,” he told The Star.

He said this was one way of monitoring premises such as zoos and pet shops to ensure that they did not deal in illegal trade of wildlife as many, especially shops, had previously been found to sell illegally-obtained wild animals.

The ruling also covers common household pets which are on the endangered species list, including animals such as the star and radiated tortoises and other exotic pets such as imported snakes and reptiles.

Abdul Rasid said the regulations for keeping animals in such premises were expected to be ready by the end of next month.

It was up to the minister to decide how much time should be given for zoos and other establishments to comply with the new regulations, he added.

“We have informed all of them about the new conditions. So far, we have audited 17 zoos and establishments and some have failed to meet the requirements.

“We have advised them of the changes they need to make to comply,” said Abdul Rasid who declined to reveal which zoos and establishments had failed the first audit.

He added that Perhilitan had proposed for a bond to be imposed for the issuance of permits for animals individually and if these were later seized, the bond money would go towards their upkeep.

Abdul Rasid said the department always welcomed help from the public and non-government organisations in monitoring the situati- on.

“To help with this effort, once each premises gets its licence, we will post details of each animal and the permit issued on our website to make it easier for them to be monitored and no question of impropriety may arise,” said Abdul Rasid.

He added that a zoo committee, comprising officials from the ministry and other stakeholders like NGOs, would be formed once the regulations were in place.

However, Sahabat Alam Malaysia president S.M. Mohd Idris said the new ruling would have little effect on smuggling of wildlife in the country.

“There is no assurance that Perhilitan will be able to curb animal smuggling even after imposing the Act.

“It is impossible for them to keep track on all individual owners or premises,” he said.