Malaysian wildlife authorities out of touch, says former DG

Malaysian wildlife authorities out of touch, says former DG
KUALA LUMPUR: The critically endangered wildlife in Malaysia appear to be in dire need of more attention, and the authorities are far from doing enough.

According to former director-general of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) Mohd Khan Momin Khan, animals such as tigers, gaurs and rinocheres outside of protected areas such as Taman Negara, have been on the decline for years.

Sharing his frustrations for organisation he use to work for until his retirement in 1992, Mohd Khan warned that the situation is likely to be worsen if Perhilitan does not buck up.

“We (park rangers) use to go into the forest quite frequently, but now there is nothing being (done),” said Mohd Khan in a recent interview with Astro AWANI.

Perhilitan is the governmental organization that is responsible for the protection, management and preservation of wildlife and national parks in Peninsular Malaysia.
Mohd Khan said that things were different when he headed Perhilitan and the subsequent years after that when he worked closely with his successor Datuk Musa Nordin.

“Rangers use to go into the forest and did a lot of enforcement, arrested a lot of poachers, especially foreign poachers from Thailand... they were really doing a lot of damage... but because of the cooperation we were able to do something, at least delay the destruction of forest, we were there, so that helped,” he said. Rangers use to be in the forests up to 10 days a month.

“Catching poachers, removing steel wires, they must do all the time. If you stop that, the animals suffer. Or they die. They are basically at the mercy of the poachers.”

Mohd Khan said that at present, he was in the dark about what is going on in the department but according data he collected between 1999 and 2005, the situation with rhinoceros, gaurs and tigers had become very bad.

The data concluded that for every tapir, there was 0.2 tigers, 1.8 gaurs and 0.18 rhinos. These, he said, were very poor figures.

Although tapirs and elephants appear to be doing better.

“Rhinos, seladangs(gaur) and tigers, they are declining outside protected areas when they should be doing better in the disturbed areas.”

“But that is not the case and it is mainly because of the poaching,” he said, adding that Perhilitan should check and find out what is happening.

Mohd Khan said that Perhilitan use to bring in 4,000 cases a year and half of those involved non-technical cases such as poaching and smuggling.

Another problem Mohd Khan said was the decline of the civil society movements.

“In the old days, NGOs use to give me a lot of trouble, forcing us to take action. These days, everybody wants to be in the good books of the ministry,” he said.