By Allan Koay
Does consuming tiger penises really help a man’s virility? Does a bear’s gall bladder really have medicinal value? A lot of myths have contributed to the demand for wildlife meat and body parts, causing the number of certain species to dwindle dramatically. Bans, prohibitions and limitations placed on the buying and selling of certain animals and their parts, has also resulted in the trade going underground and becoming illegal.
According to a report in The Star earlier this year, a live tiger can fetch up to US$50,000 (RM154,690) on the black market, and its skin is worth US$35,000 (RM108,283). Its penis sells for US$4,000 (RM12,370). Elephant tusks are US$1,800 (RM5,566).
In Malaysia, some of the animals popular among poachers are wild boar, sambar deer, barking deer, mousedeer, porcupines and rare birds. Seeing how Malaysia always gets bad press for illegal wildlife trade, Ira Rakiz Md Tuffile, managing director of Matavia Reka, and his team decided that it was time to highlight efforts carried out by the Department Of Wildlife And National Parks (Perhilitan) to stem illegal activities on our shores.
The result is Wildlife Defenders, a TV series that consists of three 30-minute episodes where Ira and team follow Perhilitan enforcement officers on their work, weeding out wildlife traffickers and traders. The series premiers on Discovery Channel today, with the remaining episodes shown on consecutive Sundays.
“When the Anson Wong case came up in 2011 (the man dubbed The Lizard King was known as “the world’s most notorious wilidlife trader”), that was when they were talking about the Wildlife Conservation Act being enforced,” said Ira. Under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010, any person who sets or uses snares for the purpose of hunting, faces fines ranging from RM50,000 to RM100,000 and a maximum two-year jail sentence. More....