Muslim preachers join fight against poachers
Posted: 21 Apr 2009
Malaysia's Muslim preachers have been enlisted in the fight for wildlife conservation, using passages from the Koran to raise awareness and help protect some of the world's most endangered species.
After a successful campaign last year, when more than 400 mosques in the state of Terengganu held sermons focusing on turtle conservation issues, WWF decided to extend the project to support efforts to tackle poaching.
The conservation group is running workshops for local imams, explaining the importance of wildlife protection.
“There are several passages within the Koran which talk about the responsibility of humans in protecting our environment and wildlife,” said Umi A’ Zuhrah from the Tiger Conservation Programme at WWF-Malaysia.
“Religious leaders are very influential and greatly respected in this community, so they are the best people to carry this message across.”
The Malaysian peninsula is home to some of the world's most amazing and threatened wildlife including the Sumatran rhinos, Malayan tigers and Asian elephants. But these, and many other species in the region, are under increasing threat due to poaching and the demand for their body parts in the illegal wildlife trade.
Poaching is arguably the biggest threat to tigers in Malaysia, with the current population estimated at about 500, down from 3,000 almost 50 years ago. Tigers are poached for their parts, which often end up in traditional chinese medicine shops and exotic meat restaurants in Malaysia and other neighbouring countries.
The newly modified sermons will be read at 21 mosques in the district of Jeli, Kelantan, in June this year and will talk about the need to stop illegal hunting and reduce human-wildlife conflict using specific passages from the Koran
“We hope that religious-based initiatives such as these will complement our monitoring and anti-poaching efforts to conserve Malaysia’s endangered wildlife,” Umi A’Zuhrah said.
Questionnaire surveys developed by WWF-Malaysia for those who heard the previous sermons indicated an increase in their levels of concern for turtle conservation.
“In Islam, the conservation of the environment is based on the principle that all individual components of the environment were created by God, and that all living things were created by the Almighty Creator,” Mawil Y. Izzi Deen says in an essay called ‘Islamic Environmental Ethics, Law and Society’.
“In fact, we are encouraged not to exploit the non-human world (natural environment and animals).”