Thursday, December 31, 2020

83 Million Cases and Pervasive Poaching

Yet another hefty increase in infections – and it has now reached 83 million cases and 1.8 million deaths. 

I think we're becoming desensitized to the pandemic and I can understand why. Life has to go on, like it or not.

Bernama News reported yesterday that Malaysian police have seized the carcasses of a tiger and a black panther as well as ten elephant tusks estimated to be worth RM500,000, all of which are believed to meant for the black market. 

Kelantan police chief Shafien Mamat said the seizure through Op Khazanah was carried out at an abode in Kampung Bukit Tok Che Dol, near Tanah Merah, at about 07:40 AM on December 30, 2020. 

Police arrested a 25-year-old male suspect believed to have been involved in the illegal poaching syndicate that has been active for more than a year. On the syndicate’s modus operandi, Shafien said according to the Kelantan Perhilitan investigation, illegal poachers used iron wire snares to trap before shooting the protected animals. 

Indeed, poaching is the greatest threat to wildlife conservation in Malaysia – besides, forest fragmentation and degradation, and habitat loss. 

Roughly one of every five animals that walks the land or plies the skies is traded internationally, according to a 2019 research published in the journal Science. We’re talking about thousands of species that are being taken from the wild and sold as food, pets, or products in legal and illegal markets around the world, with little consideration for the ability of the species to survive in the long term. 

And according to the wildlife trade monitoring network, Traffic’s latest report, the scale of wildlife trafficking in Southeast Asia is incredible and Malaysia is very much a part of it. After all, poaching is big business.

Malaysia is one of the most mega diverse countries in the world. It ranks 12th globally, with more than 15,000 species of vascular plants and 152,000 species of animal life. Yet its rich biodiversity has turned the country into a hotbed for poaching, wildlife trafficking and even worse, a hub for international trade. 

Malaysia, says Kanitha Krishnasamy (left), director for Traffic in Southeast Asia., ticks off the boxes as being an important source of wildlife, an important consumer country as well as an important transit for international wildlife trade. 

We should be thankful for Malaysia's rich biodiversity and her rich and varied forms of wildlife – but the country must step up the fight even more against wildlife crime and human-induced reduction of species, which have wide-ranging economic, environmental and social impacts. Certainly, much more can be done!

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