Sun Shines on Wildlife Trade

 I am often asked what an individual can do to protect wildlife or otherwise to address the illegal wildlife trade.  One answer is to become aware of what you are buying, where it came from, and how it was procured.  Another answer is to take up a pen (or keyboard) and write.  The Internet can be a boon to wildlife protection and better government.  Here is a letter running this week in Malaysia, from The Sun:

Do more to protect wildlife
(Mon, 29 Mar 2010)
The Sun

I REFER to “Failure at Doha heard around the globe” (Speak Up, March 29). Eric Margolis is correct to state that consumers need to make their power felt to protect wildlife.

I would like to share my two cents worth on our failure to protect our own wildlife. In January, National Geographic ran a story, “The Kingpin“, on a major wildlife trader who was based in Penang, and his alleged working relationship with a high level government officer in the Wildlife Department.

According to the writer, Bryan Christy, the relationship enabled the man to expand his business to export endangered wildlife illegally. This story was the cover story on several regional editions of the magazine.

As I was reading the article, I was thinking that the government must surely react to the article as it focuses on the failure of the Malaysian system in protecting its own wildlife. Instead, there was deafening silence.

A couple of weeks later, Channel 4 news in the UK, showed a recording of four Malaysians, gloating over a dead tiger they had poached and bragging about selling six tigers earlier. The attention was on Malaysia and again, the reaction of the government was lacklustre.

The common factor I found in these two stories was the lack of reaction from both the public and government. The reaction of the latter is expected but the lack of public reaction, including the media and several environmental organisations, was disappointing.

Wildlife has no voice and the public, media and NGOs are the avenues which should be relied upon to defend and protect them.

The National Geographic article and video of the poachers were great opportunities missed by everyone concerned to push for positive changes in both enforcement and management of wildlife in Malaysia. It is not just the governments that may cause the extinction of some species through bad decisions, as Margolis laments.

Instead, the public’s tidak apa attitude and hoping that someone else will take up the cause could also ring the death knell for Malaysia’s wildlife.

Disappointed Malaysian
Petaling Jaya

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