Seven “highly wanted” poachers were caught, along with a motherlode of weapons, as they emerged from the jungle in Kelantan.
The weapons found associated with the poachers included several powerful shotguns (enough to kill elephants) and nine chainsaws (probably used to saw off elephant tusks). Also found were tiger teeth, dried elephant meat, several parangs (machetes) and even…plastic explosives.
The Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) congratulated the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and the Malaysian Armed Forces for taking down one of the country’s most wanted elephant hunting syndicates. The effort, was held under the joint 1Malaysia Biodiversity Enforcement Operation Network (1MBEON).
Known for targeting elephants, gaur, serow and sambar in Kelantan, Terengganu and Perak, the group is responsible for at least 15 dead elephants poached for their ivory between 2013 and 2016.
MYCAT or the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers is an alliance of the Malaysian Nature Society, Traffic, WCS-Malaysia and WWF-Malaysia, supported by Perhilitan, for the recovery of wild Malayan tigers.
While habitat protection is essential for the long-term survival of tigers and other wildlife like elephants, MYCAT wants to highlight that the illegal wildlife trade is an even more urgent threat.
“This case tells us that poachers have access to serious firepower,” said Dr Chris R. Shepherd, Regional Director of Traffic (the wildlife trade monitoring network) in South-East Asia. “They are becoming increasingly well organised. We hope the Royal Malaysian Police will assist Perhilitan in bringing these criminals to justice.”
The group faces multiple charges under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, and also charges for illegal possession of firearms and explosives.
“This is the only way we are going to stop poachers from emptying our forests,” said Datuk Dr. Dionysius S.K Sharma, Executive Director/CEO of WWF-Malaysia.
“This represents the need to have both an intelligence-based and special operations team to act on targeted information in crippling wildlife poaching in our country,” he added.
Dr. Melvin Gumal, Director of Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Malaysia, advocated the need for maximum sentences to be meted out to wildlife criminals to serve as a deterrent to others.
Dr Kae Kawanishi, MYCAT General Manager, said, “We acknowledge the strong commitment of the Malaysian authorities in fighting crimes against wildlife and we would like to thank everyone who sent relevant information that assisted the authorities in nabbing the criminals.”
MYCAT encourages the public to stay vigilant and continue reporting any suspected wildlife crime to the 24-hour MYCAT Wildlife Crime Hotline at 019-356 4194 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
The public can also contact the Perhilitan hotline at 1-800-88-5151 or file an e-complaint (e-aduan) on www.wildlife.gov.my.