Malaysia: Demand for exotic meat sees illegal poaching in Pahang on the rise as Aidilfitri approaches

AMIN RIDZUAN ISHAK New Straits Times 25 Jun 18;

KUANTAN: The growing demand for exotic dishes to be served during Aidilfitri is expected to result in an increase of poaching in Pahang.

Among the sought-after wildlife which promises lucrative returns are sambar deer, kijang (barking deer) and kambing gurun (serow).

Based on the black market value, a kilogramme of sambar deer meat is priced between RM60 and RM80, the kijang meat can fetch above RM80 while the price of serow, depends greatly on the deal between the buyer and seller as it is very difficult to hunt for one.

It is understood that the unique taste of such exotic meat and the uncommon practice of serving the dishes during Aidilfitri are the reasons behind the rising demand.

State Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director Ahmad Azahar Mohammed said the department was aware that more poachers would be on the prowl as Aidilfitri draws near.

“We see a rising trend in the illegal activity during the festive season such as Raya due to the growing demand from exotic meat lovers. The poachers will use various methods including setting up traps or shooting the animal.

“Illegal hunters know they can make quick money from such activities. If there is no demand or they cannot make profit, they will not spend days in the jungle just to track down and capture these animals,” he told NSTP when met today.

Azahar said these poaches would usually enter forest areas which has been cleared and have access to the jungle to bring out their catch.

“Animals that occupy forest areas that have been cleared would usually leave their habitat to find food and among the hot spots that the department has identified in Pahang are Kemasul (Bentong), Tekai (Jerantut) and Berkelah (Kuantan),” he said, adding that Perhilitan personnel are currently monitoring the hot spots to curb poaching.

He said the government has put in place a six-year moratorium since 2016 on the hunting of sambar deer, barking deer and serow, and if caught, the illegal hunters could face a hefty punishment.

“Under Section 68 of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716), those caught hunting or keeping fully protected wildlife will face maximum penalty and five years’ jail, while those caught hunting protected species face a maximum RM50,000 fine and two years’ jail under Section 60 of the same act,” he said.