War on snares continues: Zero-tolerance
POACHERS have been hard at work and they've been at it in areas long considered safe havens. In a single operation early this month, Wildlife and National Parks Department enforcement officers cleared a staggering 500 snares from the Taman Negara national park.
This was the result of a thorough sweep of the 4,343ha park, said deputy-director general I Misliah Mohd Basir.
She said the department believed the snares were set by foreign poachers who had trespassed into the protected area in search of agarwood.
While the fragrant wood from the tree was the main target, these poachers would use the opportunity to trap, and later sell, wildlife caught in their snares.
Thousands of other snares have also been cleared in forested areas around Peninsular Malaysia, in 141 operations this year.
Only a handful can be brought to court -- if these poachers are caught in the act or in possession of snares.
In one case in Terengganu, a poacher caught with 52 snares was fined RM1,000 by the courts.
Three other cases involving poachers with a total of 50 snares are still being heard.
Last year, six cases were compounded or brought to court -- three in Perak, and one each in Terengganu, Pahang and Johor.
The poacher in Terengganu received a six-month jail sentence, while another in Perak was fined RM900 by the court.
Five people in Johor were compounded RM260 each for setting snares.
The remaining cases are still being heard in court and involve 65 snares in all.
Snares not only trap indiscriminately, they often leave some wildlife, like tigers, with terrible wounds that make them too slow to hunt prey.
This forces the injured animal to turn to cattle and humans instead, increasing incidence of conflict.
The department is stepping up efforts to clear snares, says Misliah and carries out operations at least twice or three times a month.
The Johor National Parks Corporation is also focusing on this area.
It is working with plantation owners and the state Forestry Department to detect and remove snares fringing the Endau-Rompin Johor National Park and forest reserves.
Surveys completed in October showed that most snares were outside the park boundaries.
Corporation director Abu Bakar Mohamed Salleh said discussions had been held with the 244-strong security unit of the Kulim Plantation located near the park and that they were willing to be trained to spot snares.
The corporation will also be getting a helping hand from the state Forestry Department senior staff who will take part in a training exercise to look at effective patrolling techniques and checkpoint systems used outside Malaysia.
A specially-designed patrolling and auditing system will soon be put in place and it will be GIS (Geographic Information Systems)-enabled to make it easier to do research.
"We don't have any jurisdiction outside the park but we know that poachers come in to the park from the fringes," said Abu Bakar
"With the help of the plantation, and forestry staff, we've cleared 92 wire snares so far but we will not rest. We have zero-tolerance for snares."