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Smuggling of tigers from Malaysia
15 July 2009

Petaling Jaya, 15 July 2009 - News that a number of the tiger parts seized in Thailand earlier this year included those of the Malayan Tiger is depressing, but hardly surprising.


From Changlun, near the Malaysian-Thai border to Nongkai province, near the Thai-Lao border, dismembered tigers have been stacking up in seizure after seizure around the region.

The first two cases this year saw Thai authorities confiscate 250kg of tiger parts and then, 11 dead tigers. The most recent case involved the seizure of 3 kg of tiger bones in Jeli, Kelantan last month by the Malaysian Wildlife and National Parks Department.

 

Seizures were also reported in May and June throughout the region.

It’s clearly time to admit that we are fast losing the battle to save our tigers to an army of smugglers and poachers intent on killing every last one.

They enter our protected areas with ease, and illegally trap, kill and export our wildlife with little fear. The fact that they are targeting an animal as large, recognizable and iconic as the tiger, suggests that this is a calculated risk that often pays off.

So do we fight back or sit back?

The Malaysian Nature Society, TRAFFIC Southeast Asia, Wildlife Conservation Society and WWF-Malaysia, which make up the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT), will step up awareness efforts, intelligence gathering and sharing, and will continue to support enforcement agencies working to stamp out illegal trade in wildlife.

But in this case, the most critical step must be taken by the Wildlife Department and the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment – to find out where in Malaysia these tigers came from.

Of the 12 tiger samples tested, five were from Malayan tigers, which are native to Malaysia. The rest consisted of two sub-species not naturally occurring but found in zoos and theme parks here - the Indochinese tiger and Siberian tiger.

This begs the question: How do Siberian and Indochinese tigers end up in a seizure from Malaysia?

The Wildlife Department will be able to ascertain, with its inventory of captive tigers in the country, against which it can compare the Thai DNA results.

And if the evidence points to captive tigers leaking into the illegal wildlife trade, then swift and severe action must follow.

If we cannot stop captive tigers from government-supervis ed institutions from being illegally traded, there is little hope of protecting wild tigers.


 



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