Wildlife poaching syndicates have been running wild in the jungles of Kelantan, hunting down endangered animals, such as tigers and elephants, in Jeli and Kuala Krai.
However, it has emerged that the syndicates have been getting a helping hand from People's Volunteer Corp (Rela) members.
It was learnt that the syndicates, from outside the state, have been engaging Rela members as trackers for their activities, with a lucrative payday awaiting the members in the event of a good haul.
Rela members not only lead the syndicates to their prizes, but also offer them the use of their government-issued firearms to kill animals.
Sources said the Wildlife Department had identified at least three groups, all of which have one or two Rela members in each group.
They are joined in their hunt by syndicate members from other states and foreigners.
"The activity has been going on for at least five years. It is an easy job for the Rela men as they have the firearm licences and are also familiar with the local jungle. That is why their services are much sought after by the syndicates."
It is believed that the discovery of carcasses of a tiger and four leopards in a taxi in Tumpat in September was linked to one of the groups. The taxi driver has been charged and faces 25 years in prison.
A former state wildlife director said poaching was not so serious in the past but it had become rampant lately, especially in the Gunong Basor forest reserve in Jeli.
"Most of the wildlife killed are tigers and elephants. They are hunted for their skin, tusks and other organs, which are smuggled to Thailand and onward to other countries, including China. More....