Malaysia: Poachers busted with highly-prized chandan from Bukit Bauk reserve

ROSLI ZAKARIA New Straits Times 13 Dec 17;

DUNGUN: Two poachers, who had been plundering the highly-prized and rare 'Aquilaria Hirta' or chandan at the foothills near the Bukit Bauk forest reserve over the past three years, were finally caught in the act yesterday.

The two men, aged 27 and 31, had six sacks of the aromatic wood when they were nabbed by Forestry Department officers.

The Forestry Department's enforcement unit, acting on a public tip-off, trekked two hours in the jungle to reach the foothills where the poachers were caught red-handed filling their sacks with the precious wood.

State Forestry Department director Datuk Ahmad Fadzil Abdul Majid said the poachers confessed to their illegal activity and spilled the beans on the identity of the buyer based in Kuantan, Pahang who processed the wood to extracts its resin.

“From our initial investigation, there are more than four groups operating illegally in the area. We will track them down as well as the buyer in Kuantan,” he said, adding that the arrest and seizure were the first in the state.

Officers found at least 20 stumps of the trees and believed that there could be more since the poachers had been encroaching the area over the past three years.

He said the Aquilaria hirta species is harvested merely for its resin to be processed for its aromatic oil, and that the trees are not as common as the Aquilaria malaccensis or gaharu.

Fazil said the two men would be charged under Section 15 of the National Forestry Act 1954 which carries a fine of not more that RM500,000 or a jail term of 20 years, or both.