By Malaysia Nature Society, Kedah Branch
Members of the Malaysian Nature Society Kedah branch, are extremely distressed by the Al Jazeera 101 East report “Return of the Lizard King” and “Authorities in the dark over convicted trafficker’s return” (The Star, Nov 23).
The reports touched on the continued smuggling and illegal trade of endangered animals by the infamous “Lizard King” Anson Wong, from Penang.
The smuggling of exotic wildlife and protected species using Penang and Malaysia as the base and transit point not only exposed our country’s weaknesses in enforcement of wildlife trade and regulations, but also showed our indifferent attitude towards protecting and conserving our own endangered species and those from around the globe.
As Malaysia is a signatory of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES), we must be serious in taking action to prevent the illegal trade of wildlife and endangered species.
We must not allow the smugglers to operate freely.
All collaborators in the relevant government agencies involved in this illegal trade should also be taken to court.
It is an irony that Malaysia being one of the 12 mega-diverse countries in the world in both flora and fauna does not enforce CITES seriously.
Malaysia should introduce stronger measures to prevent the illegal trade of endangered species to conserve and protect this endowment from Mother Nature.
We, together with other conservationists and animals lovers, urge the Department of Wildlife and National Park (Perhilitan) to take drastic steps immediately to halt this trade in endangered species.
It is never too late lest we turn a blind eye to this issue which has already put Malaysia in bad light worldwide.
If nothing is done, not only will our natural heritage suffer in the long run, but in the short run, our efforts in promoting “Visit Malayisa 2014” will be eroded too.