Tuesday November 20, 2012
How the public can help
WILDLIFE officers alone cannot overcome the sheer volume and extent of the illegal wildlife trade.
By providing them with the right information, you will be making an invaluable contribution to clamping down on the damaging trade. Here is how you can play your part:
1. Understand legality
There are two laws you need to be aware of, when it comes to understanding what’s legal and what’s not:
> The Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 lists down species that are totally protected and those which can be hunted or traded with licences in Peninsular Malaysia (Sabah and Sarawak have their own corresponding laws).
> The International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008 regulates trade in wildlife species in line with the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES). It has three appendices: Appendix I lists down species where no commercial trade is allowed (tigers, leopards and Asian bears); Appendix II features species requiring trade licences (tortoises, pangolins and hill mynahs); and Appendix III are traded species originating from specific countries (various types of mongoose and binturong.)
To confirm the status of an animal, you can call the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Hotline at 1800885151 or download both Acts at wildlife.gov.my.
2. Know the issues
One can start by asking key questions:
> Is the trade in this animal sustainable?
> Is this animal listed under CITES?
> Is this animal listed as a “protected” or “totally protected” species in the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010?
> Does this animal or animal product have the correct permits for trading?
If there is any doubt, the best thing to do is to avoid supporting its trade.
3. Think before you buy or consume
Whether it is enjoying a bowl of shark fin soup, or purchasing a pair of red coral earrings, you might unknowingly be contributing to the illegal trade in wildlife. When the buying stops, the killing stops.
So, think before you buy.
4. Make your voice heard
There have been numerous occasions where public outrage has contributed to action. For example, demonstrations were held outside a zoo a few years ago in response to a video that had surfaced online, where a staffer was found to be mistreating a tiger.
More recently, outraged netizens raised awareness about sea turtle harassment after a video of some tourists riding a sea turtle surfaced online.
5. Report wildlife crime
Save this number on your phone now: 019-3564194.
If you see or suspect that a wildlife crime has taken place, call the Wildlife Crime Hotline and make a report, providing information on:
> What type of crime? (Is the wildlife traded as traditional medicine, wild meat, souvenir or pet?)
> Where? (Name the shop, market or restaurant, and provide the address)
> When? (Date and time of the incident)
What’s on sale
Wildlife products which you are likely to encounter:
> Medicine: rhino (horn), pangolin (scales), bear (bile), antelope (horn), deer (musk), sea horses and tiger (bone)
> Pets: sugar glider, turtle and tortoise, snake, song bird, Asian leopard cat, tokay gecko and owl
> Wild meat in restaurant: bear paw, pangolin, tiger, bat, snake, soft-shelled turtle, civet, porcupine, deer
> Trophies and luxury products: ivory, cat skins, snake and crocodile skins, tortoise shells, feathers and beaks, deer antlers, claws, canines.
Amassing a citizen army