Posts Tagged ‘traffic’

Seized Wildlife Trafficker Notebooks Give Unique Insight

Friday, October 29th, 2010

“Seized Notebooks give unique insight” at first when I read these words in the following press release from TRAFFIC-Malaysia I thought, Wow!  I’m about to read what the Malaysian government discovered from its recent seizure of Anson Wong’s laptop and cell phones. 

Or, I’m about to read the results of the Malaysian anti-corruption agency’s recent raid on wildlife department officer Misliah Mohd. Basir’s office (they seized a computer, too). 

Instead I read this fascinating window on the pangolin trade–all from a single syndicate’s notebooks.  The government of Sabah operates independently of mainland Malaysia’s government on many wildife issues.  That is why we can have such a good example of NGO-Government cooperation on the one hand and such poor progress on opening up Anson and Misliah’s files to public scrutiny, on the other.  Peninsular Malaysians should demand the same transparency as on Sabah. 

Seized notebooks give unique insight into scale of illicit pangolin trade
 
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia, 28th October 2010—Stunning figures in traffickers’ logbooks indicate massive illegal capture and trade in endangered pangolins or scaly anteaters, finds a new TRAFFIC study.

A Preliminary Assessment of Pangolin Trade in Sabah analyses logbooks seized following a raid by Sabah Wildlife Department in 2009 on a syndicate’s pangolin trafficking premises in Kota Kinabalu, the capital city of the Malaysian State of Sabah in north Borneo.
 
The logbooks reveal that 22,200 pangolins were killed and 834.4 kg of pangolin scales were supplied to the syndicate between May 2007 and January 2009…

  Read More.

Thai Success a Failure?

Monday, October 11th, 2010

Thailand’s Wildlife Crime Task Force arrested a Malagasy national attempting to smuggle 218 critically endangered Radiated and Ploughshare tortoises from Madagascar into Bangkok last night.  This arrest comes just 12 days after the arrest of a Pakistani man smuggling an astonishing 1,140 endangered star tortoises into Thailand in his luggage, and is the sixth arrest of a wildlife smuggler in seven weeks, according to the Thailand-based NGO Freeland.  This work may appear commendable, but there is a big problem.

Catching couriers may get press releases but it does not stop wildlife trafficking.  What stops trafficking is (more…)

Drunk or Sober–Fishing for Mr. Big

Monday, September 13th, 2010

Two news items out of Malaysia: In the first, from The Star, Malaysia’s wildlife department (Perhilitan) demonstrates why more and more people see the wildlife department as a bigger problem than even the wildlife traffickers who exploit the country.  “Illegal trade in wildlife is happening in Malaysia but it is still under control with effective enforcement,”  said Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Per­hilitan), in an interview with The Star newspaper of Malaysia(emphasis added).  “The department is doing everything within its authority and jurisdiction to curb illegal wildlife trade in Peninsular Malaysia.” 

Really?  That’s the department’s official response to years of wildlife trafficking, to a reputation for so little law enforcement that Malaysia is a favorite hub for criminal syndicates moving endangered wildlife from Africa, Asia, the US and Europe?  We have it under control?

Obviously, the wildlife department cannot and will not fix itself any more than an alcoholic can fix himself without help.  The Malaysian people and the world have confronted the department with its problem (we have had the intervention)–everyone (except the wildlife department) recognizes years of abuse has occurred–of smuggling, of issuing endangered species permits to smugglers, of poorly managed rescue centers, and on and on (click perhilitan in my blog and you’ll see some examples over just the past 2 years; here’s a good story today).  The first step to reforming an alcoholic is for the person to admit he has a problem.  Despite all the endangered species that have passed through Malaysia, the wildlife department is not even at this stage yet.  It still denies it has a problem.  A person in denial cannot be cured.

In the second news item, from The Sun, Azrina Abdullah makes the case for increasing the punishment on Anson Wong, listing major laws Anson recently broke, “Come Down Hard on Illegal Wildlife Traders.” 

(BTW, news outlets around the world have picked up The Lizard King to describe Anson Wong, drawing the moniker from my book.  As Ms. Abdullah points out, Wong is not The Lizard King; he was part of the syndicate described in my book.  Wong was, of course, the subject of the National Geogprahic story, The Kingpin, which makes a good nickname, too.)

Last up, Malaysia’s Ministry of Environment (MNRE), which oversees the wildlife department, announces today it is creating an internal audit committee to review standard operating procedures in enforcement of laws and regulations on poaching, whatever that means.  A similar announcement was made last spring.  Malaysia’s new laws are excellent steps forward, but the audit committee idea sounds like just another way of saying, We aren’t going to do anything.

Which brings me back to the first sentence of this post.