The Star Malaysia Covers The Kingpin

This story appeared in The Star two days after The Kingpin went up on

The Star
December 17, 2009

Article in National Geographic an exposé on Wong’s escapades

PETALING JAYA: An online “exposé” by the National Geo­graphic magazine on Asia’s wildlife trade prominently features Anson Wong, the former Malay­sian wildlife trafficker.

The 15-page feature by Bryan Christy talks about Wong’s escapades in the illegal wildlife trade, his 1998 arrest in Mexico by United States undercover agents, and his future alleged trade plans as he lives his life in Penang.

Christy, who is the author of The Lizard King, in which Wong was a key character, also wrote in detail about a trip to Wong’s office in Penang back in 2007.

It was then, Christy claimed, that he learned of Wong’s plans to set up a zoo known as Anson Wong Flora and Fauna Village where he would display reptiles and focus on tigers.

The article claimed that Wong was back in business and now “frequents Internet message boards, seeking reptiles from India, Madagascar, and Sudan, insects from Mozambique, and ‘10 tons a month’ of sheep horns.”

“He has offered to sell an array of wildlife, including Malaysian reptiles, mynah birds, parrots, and half a million dollars’ worth of wild agarwood, prized for its aromatic qualities. To a request for dead birds and mammals, he replied, ‘We have always specimens’, ” Christy’s report claimed.

Christy met with Wong after being introduced by Mike Van Nostrand, one of Anson’s customers and owner of Strictly Reptiles in South Florida, which was among the world’s largest reptile import-export wholesalers, the article said.

In a rare interview last August, the elusive Wong spoke to The Star journalist Hilary Chiew about his past illicit operations, the undercover stint that led to his arrest and his current life.

The Starprobe article saw Wong denying that he was the “Pablo Escobar of the wildlife trade”.

He also stressed that he had remained “clean” since his return here in 2004.

In the article, Christy also talked about his allegations and encounter with Perhilitan deputy director-general Misliah Mohamad Basir in 2007 and her thoughts on Wong and on Chris Shepherd from Traffic, which monitors the trading of protected species.

Christy, in the article, also quoted a 2008 Perhilitan statement that Wong had carried out his business legally and complied with requirements under the domestic law and that “he and his business have been monitored closely by this department.”

Wong was convicted in 2001 of trafficking in highly-endangered species by the US government and jailed for 71-months. He was released in November 2003.

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