Tiger skins, elephant ivory and bones seized in Malaysia

TRAFFIC 10 Feb 12;

Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 10th February 2012—Eight Tiger skins, elephant tusks and bags of bones were seized in northern Malaysia, according to a statement released today by the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment.

The items were found after a dozen officers from Malaysia’s wildlife department, Perhilitan, raided a house following a tip-off in the early hours of Friday morning in Kota Setar in the northern district of Kedah.

One local man was arrested and taken away for questioning. A second house was also raided as part of the investigations, although no animal parts were discovered there.

Among the goods confiscated were 8 Tiger skins, 9 elephant tusks, one deer horn and 22 bags containing animal bones. The bones are to be sent away for identification and forensics analysis.

“TRAFFIC warmly congratulates the wildlife department on this important seizure,” said Kanitha Krishnasamy, Senior Programme Officer with TRAFFIC South-East Asia.

“However, it is vital thorough investigations are undertaken of all seized items to determine their origin, who was behind trafficking in them, and where the buyers are, so that they can be brought to book.”

The confiscation of elephant tusks could mark a shift in Malaysia’s involvement in the illegal ivory trade. Prior to 2011, Malaysia was considered a transit country in the flow of ivory from Africa to Asia, but in January 2012, 450 kg of ivory was seized in Port Klang, with Malaysia as its final destination.

Under Malaysian law, anyone convicted of possession of parts of totally protected wildlife, such as Tiger skins, faces a maximum fine of MYR100,000 (USD33,000) or up three years in jail or both, for each offence.

“The government has regularly warned its citizens about the penalties for anyone caught dealing in protected wild animal parts,” said Krishnasamy.

“Now is the time to back up those warnings—if anyone is convicted in this case, they should feel the full force of the law. A small fine is just a slap on the wrist and sends completely the wrong message: laws are there to be obeyed.”

Tiger skins and elephant tusks seized
Isabelle Lai The Star 11 Feb 12;

PETALING JAYA: Tiger skins and elephant ivory tusks were among wildlife parts seized by the Wildlife and Natural Parks Department (Perhilitan) in a successful bust.

A team of 12 Perhilitan officers from Kedah raided two houses in Mukim Tokai, Pendang, and Kota Sarang Semut, Kota Setar at around 3.15am yesterday.

The team seized eight tiger skins, nine elephant ivory tusks, 22 plastic bags suspected to be filled with wildlife bones and a tusk suspected to be from a barking deer.

“The seized items were taken from an unnumbered house in Lot 30, Kampung Sungai Dedap, Kota Sarang Semut in Kota Setar,” Perhilitan said in a statement.

It warned that the act of keeping wildlife parts was illegal and offenders could be prosecuted under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.

“Owning tiger skins, elephant ivory tusks and wildlife bones without a permit is illegal and offenders can be fined up to RM100,000, jailed up to three years or both for each offence,” it said.

Perhilitan said a male suspect had been detained and remanded at the Kota Setar police station for further investigation.

Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic hailed the bust as very significant.

“It is shocking to learn he had in his possession all these parts from protected animals.

“Further investigation to determine where these items were obtained from and who else was involved is crucial,” said Traffic South-East Asia senior programme officer Kanitha Krishnasamy.

She said the arrest of this individual with nine ivory pieces was an excellent opportunity for intelligence-led investigations to crack down on the illegal ivory trade.

Malaysia has seized more than six tonnes of ivory worth millions of ringgit in the last seven months, most of which were transshipped.