Time to Get Serious about Saving Malaysian Wildlife
Malayan tapirs routinely fall victim to passing cars. Photo Credit: animalspot.net
An endangered Malayan tapir was killed in a road accident, then it was presently skinned and dismembered by several men who decided to retrieve its body parts.
Around the same time, over the Christmas holidays, an endangered Malayan sun bear, too, was run down and killed in a road accident. The dead bear, too, ended up being skinned and dismembered with its meat sold at a market as an exotic meal.
Horrific? You bet.
Malaysian animal lovers and conservationists have been outraged at such callous treatment of wild animals, and rightly so. “A huge amount of our time is committed to empowering and encouraging positive change in the way we protect our planet, including wildlife,” observed Dionysius Sharma, executive director of the Malaysian chapter of the international conservationist group World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF-Malaysia).
“Despite all efforts from various organisations and government bodies, yet again we as a nation, have failed to stand up for our Malaysian wildlife,” he stressed. “If we do not take drastic measures to protect our wildlife now, we may lose them to extinction in the near future.”
Sadly, it’s hard to quibble with that assessment, however bleak it may sound. Malaysians still have a long way to go before the nation can truly come to pride itself on a progressive attitude towards the nation’s animals, be they domesticated or wild animals.
Too many citizens of the land still continue to see animals not so much as sentient beings that deserve loving care and protection but simply as sources of meat and ingredients for traditional medicine. Accordingly, many otherwise law-abiding citizens think nothing of killing wild animals and eating them without a second thought. Bears continue to be poached by locals for their paws and bile. Elephants continue to be killed for their tusks. Tigers continue to be hunted for their pelts, teeth and claws.
Many other Malaysian citizens mean wild animals no harm, yet they may still end up harming them just the same through negligence. The death toll of wildlife on the country’s roads continues to be appalling. Drivers passing through forests and protected areas often fail to take heed and run down migrating animals.
A whole host of animals from tigers to elephants has fallen victims to passing vehicles around Malaysia in recent years. Animals like tapirs that have poor eyesight are especially prone to being killed in this way. It is incumbent upon all Malaysian drivers to watch out, slow down and remain on their guard whenever they pass through or near forests and protected wildlife areas.
But more needs to be done than increased vigilance. Conservationists have long been lobbying the government to build far more wildlife crossings, from viaducts to tunnels, in order to facilitate the safe passage of roaming animals like elephants, tapirs, tigers and sun bears.
“We call on the authorities to consult, seek advice and include NGOs in a working committee to find a workable long-term plan to save and protect Malaysian wildlife and its habitats,” Henry Goh, president of the Malaysian Nature Society, has said.
“Take immediate measures to stop further incidents of road kills before it is too late,” he added.
We second that call.