A Step Forward for Wildlife Protection


 

I have always hated pet shops. But it didn’t escape my notice that the residents of pet shops has become more exotic over the years. On one hand, I have reservations about people who buy these exotic pets like the Star Tortoise below that I “borrowed without permission” from whozoo.

 These pretty little Indian Star Tortoise is one of the many endangered species sold as exotic pets in Malaysia

You know, there are people out there for whom pets are moving playthings, or worse, fashion statements. Abhorrent? I agree. Now, being self-indulgent is one thing, but when it threatens an entire species…well, time to be alarmed. I was, until recently.

In those heated weeks prior to the epoch-making General Elections 2008, most Malaysians can be forgiven if they didn’t see this bit of good news from Tan Cheng Li at The Star. 🙂

Yes, the government had passed a law late last year, that makes it illegal to for Malaysians to buy/sell/own certain imported species of animals and plants in Malaysia.

It is hoped that the International Trade in Endangered Species bill that went though parliament, will be gazetted and enforceable soon. This is a pressing need, and I hope that in the political turmoil that’s affecting Umno and the Barisan government, this Bill will not be forgotten.

The Bill not only covers individuals but also corporations within its ambit, so as to make entire outfits liable for trading in endangered species. Hundreds of species, that include mammals, reptiles, birds, plants and trees, are mentioned in this bill.

The bill would also make it an offence to sell/buy products made from these endangered flora and fauna list.

So, ladies, double check that exotic-looking handbag before you even entertain the thought of telling your mahjong friends about your latest acquisition. It might land you in jail.

To read the bill and the list, go here

The bill, once it becomes Act, has fines up to RM100,000 and a jail sentence up to 7 years for those caught flouting the law on this score. Of course the this bill came into being only after tremendous pressure from the United Nations Convention on the Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

Read more on CITES.

 Why we need laws like this? Because it takes punishment for people to toe the line. This is where enforcement comes into play. Trading and smuggling of flora and fauna is just one reason for the species decline.

We human beings are responsible in other ways. We have been responsible for loss of habitat that results in  bad news like this.

The Slender Billed Vulture below will be a memory if their habitat loss continue, since it is critically endangered.

slender-billed vulture

There are 45 bird species that Malaysians will not see anymore in a decade. Imagine that, 45 species!

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