Rimba would like to give a special shout-out to the Terengganu State Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP or its Malay acronym PERHILITAN) for conducting a successful raid that netted Vietnamese and Cambodian poachers plundering Tembat Forest Reserve, one of the research sites in the Kenyir Wildlife Corridor Project. The poachers were caught red-handed with pangolin meat and scales.
DWNP trailed the poachers for 70 km from Sungai Ketiar Elephant Sanctuary, after the poachers were initially spotted leaving the forest reserve by car. The fact that these foreigners were able to easily access the forest using a vehicle is yet another example of how roads can facilitate entry for illegal hunting and collection of forest produce.
BERNAMA erroneously reported that the poachers were also found in possession of sandalwood. However, sandalwood is from the genus Santalum and doesn’t naturally occur in Malaysia. It’s far more likely that the poachers were collecting gaharu (or agarwood, Aquilaria spp.), as reported in The Star. This aromatic wood is abundant in this part of the world, and is in very great demand for making perfume in the Middle East and incense in Japan, luring both locals and foreigners to sneak in here and harvest it illegally. Due to this, gaharu is afforded some protection by being on Appendix II of CITES.
Rimba is grateful to the Terengganu Wildlife Department for the admirable action they took to protect the state’s forest reserves. We’d also like to take this opportunity to remind you that it’s also everyone’s responsibility to ensure that these important species don’t die out due to human greed and selfishness. Please do NOT support any products, businesses or industries that utilise pangolin parts. If you choose to buy products that contain gaharu, please try to ascertain first whether it’s legally and sustainably sourced. And above all, do report any incidents of wildlife crime to the authorities: remember to call the Wildlife Crime Hotline at 019-356-4194 if you know of any poaching, encroachment, smuggling, sale and/or consumption of wildlife and wildlife parts. And feel free to express your appreciation to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks for all their hard work. Malaysia’s pangolins desperately need more of this kind of effort!
No idea what a pangolin is? This wonderfully quirky scaled mammal is found in both Asia and Africa, but is being threatened with extinction because in traditional Chinese medicine its body parts are thought to have healing and health properties, even though this misguided belief is not backed up by any scientific evidence. Due to the high illicit trade in pangolins and pangolin parts, this animal is now listed as Endangered on the IUCN Red List, and is also on Appendix II of CITES, meaning that trade is only allowed with a special permit. However, in Malaysia it’s been given an extra layer of protection as there is currently a ban on all pangolin exports from the country.
Save Pangolins is a non-profit effort to raise awareness on the importance of saving pangolins from extinction. If you’re interested in reading up more on pangolins and pangolin conservation, do check out the information resources on their website to find out more!