WWF, Traffic urge Malaysia to increase anti-wildlife smuggling efforts

The Star 11 Feb 14;

KUALA LUMPUR: The World Wide Fund for Nature - Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) and The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (Traffic) have urged the Malaysian Government to act forcefully in combating poaching and wildlife trade in Malaysia.

In a statement issued here Tuesday, both organisations said they made the call in view of Malaysia's participation in the Illegal Wildlife Trade Conference in London on Feb 12 and 13.

Conference participants include source, transit, and destination countries for illegal wildlife goods, and countries with available resources to tackle trafficking.

"The two-day conference is an opportunity for governments to commit to finally ending illegal trade in elephants, rhinos, tigers and wildlife.

"Any measures agreed in London must be backed at home by delivering actions equal to the challenge," said WWF-Malaysia's executive director/CEO, Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma.

Traffic's Southeast Asia regional director Dr Chris R Shepherd said Malaysia had already lost much of its wildlife to poachers.

"We call on the Government to make the fight against wildlife poachers and traffickers a priority in the national agenda," he said.

Both organisations urged the Malaysian government to sign the Conference Declaration and prioritise seven key areas including cracking down on illegal wildlife trade networks operating in the country.

The organisations also urged the Malaysian government to set up a National Tiger Task Force to oversee the implementation of the National Tiger Conservation Action Plan, as well as anti-poaching efforts to protect tigers and other wildlife.

"Poaching for trade is clearly the most chronic threat to Malaysia's wildlife. Local and foreign poaching syndicates are emptying the forests of tigers, their prey, and other wildlife.

"Most of these poachers are armed and they enter the forests without any fear of getting caught," said Dr Sharma. - Bernama