At least 150 Wild Animal Species are being Trafficked in Malaysia
Pygmy lorises routinely fall victim to wildlife traffickers. Photo Credit: Wikimedia Commons
Last year officials of the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) rescued creatures belonging to 150 species. You’ve read that right: In 2017 wildlife officials handled nearly 3,000 cases of wildlife trafficking in which animals from a whopping 150 species, according to Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, minister of Natural Resources and Environment.
And that’s just the number of species of which officials had evidence. The actual number is thus likely higher. Kudos to the officials for rescuing all these animals from wildlife traffickers. Yet we should hardly celebrate this diverse haul of rescues. That’s because the figure itself confirms the troubling extent of poaching and wildlife trafficking.
Few exotic animal species, whether they are foreign or native to Malaysia, remain unaffected by the trade, albeit some species are at far more risk than others, of course. Specifically, animals that can be sold as exotic pets like slow lorises and animals that are used in traditional medicine like pangolins are particularly in danger of being seized alive from the wild or killed outright.
Largely to blame for this state of affairs is rampant poaching. Guns and snares continue taking myriad victims among hapless wild animals. “According to statistics from 2015 to 2017, 25 animals of various species died due to snares,” Wan Junaidi explained. “Among them are Malayan tigers, leopards, elephants, tapirs, mountain goats, as well as deer. This also cuts off the food chain between predator and prey.”
As if that were not enough, plenty of wild animals, again from a large variety of species, perish in road accidents, adding to the dangers that animals face daily in many parts of the country. Several iconic species are tottering on the edge of extinction as a result of human activities: deforestation, rampant development, as well as relentless poaching and trafficking.
To be sure, local officials and animal lovers alike have their work cut out for them in their efforts to preserve Malaysia’s stunning biodiversity, or what’s left of it.
But we cannot expect officials and conservationists alone to save endangered species. We must all do our part too. We must stop buying wild animals for pets no matter how “cute” or “cool” we might take them to be. And we must also stop consuming medicines made from any wild animal parts.