Tuesday February 12, 2013
Groups seek justice for animals
PETALING JAYA: Wildlife conservation groups have called for the mandatory fines to be imposed on the wildlife trader who was convicted for possession of tiger skins and bones, and African elephant tusks.
Mohd Nor Shahrizam, 30, was sentenced by the Alor Setar Sessions Court to a total of 60 months – 24 months for possession of eight tiger skins, another 24 months for keeping 22 whole tiger bones, and 12 months for the nine tusks – but because the judged ordered the sentences to run concurrently, he would only be in jail for 24 months.
To top that, no fines were imposed.
A wildlife prosecution officer in Kedah has been reported as saying that the prosecution planned to appeal to seek a fine.
Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat) said that a mandatory fine – the minimum being RM100,000 – would be in accordance with the Wildlife Conservation Act, which involves the keeping of tigers or their parts.
“Yet, Mohd Nor Shahrizam, found guilty on two charges under this clause, was not fined. Not even the minimum RM200,000 he should have been slapped with in this case,” said the group.
“So it’s 24 months for 22 tigers. A little over a month in prison for each tiger that Malaysia has lost forever,” said Mycat.
The group said the judgment was like “the blow of a sledgehammer” to those in enforcement and conservation who had been toiling to keep tigers from the brink of extinction.
Mycat said it also wanted to see authorities “dig deeper” into the case, alleging that Mohd Nor Shahrizam was only part of a larger criminal trafficking network.
“Will Malaysia ever join the ranks of countries like India, Nepal and Indonesia, which have taken down some of their countries’ biggest wildlife smuggling rings?” it said.
The group urged that the authorities fight harder to ensure protection and justice for the last 500 tigers for the sake of the country’s wildlife and image.
Mohd Nor Shahrizam was caught with the items when the Department of Wildlife and National Parks raided his house in Kampung Sungai Dedap, Kota Sarang Semut, last February.
Judge Mohd Rosli Osman granted the defence a stay pending an appeal and ordered that Mohd Nor Shahrizam’s bail, initially set at RM70,000, be raised to RM80,000.