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SOS Rhino : In the News : Poachers kill tigers, rhino

Poachers kill tigers, rhino

  New Straits Times, Malaysia
Chuah Bee Kim
April 21

Four tigers, a baby elephant and a rhinoceros caught in snares laid by poachers were killed for their meat and organs in the Endau-Rompin National Park in Johor recently.

Orang Asli villagers alerted park rangers of the killings after finding trails of animal blood in the forest late last month. Several nylon and wire snares used to trap the animals were also found. However, there was no trace of the carcasses. The poachers, believed to be from Thailand, had entered the protected forest reserve from Pahang. Johor National Park Corporation director Mohamed Basir Mohamed Sali said the animals were shot by the poachers after they were found trapped in the snares.

He added that based on information obtained from the Orang Asli and the blood stains found, the poachers had killed four tigers, a baby elephant and a rhinoceros.

He said no fewer than 100 snares were believed to have been set up around the fringes of the park.

"According to our informants, the poachers had set up camp in the park for over a month. They were primarily after tigers, although the baby elephant and rhino also became victims after they got caught in the snares," he said.

Basir said the four Malayan tigers, also known as the Panthera tigris corbetti, weighed between 60kg and 70kg, which meant they were relatively young. A fullgrown tiger weighs about 150kg.

He also said based on the blood trail found by the Orang Asli, one tiger might have escaped after getting caught in the snares, and was probably maimed now.

"It could turn to humans for food as it might be too wounded to hunt on its own. This is worrying," he added.

Basir said the poachers were believed to be working for syndicates engaged in the illicit trade of wild animals for meat and organs.

"The trade is very lucrative as a tiger tooth can fetch between RM1,000 and RM2,000, a paw RM800 to RM1,000, pelt and head RM80,000, bones RM15,000 and meat RM150 per kilogramme," he said.

According to some sources, tiger meat is reportedly served by appointment only at three restaurants in Kahang, Johor.

"With fewer than 30 tigers remaining in the wild in Johor, the poachers, if left unchecked, could wipe out our entire tiger population," he said.

Basir said the Johor Wildlife Protection and National Parks Department (Perhilitan), had sent a team to track down the poachers but they had already escaped with the carcasses.

He explained that combing the park, which sprawls 490 square kilometres, was no easy task for the enforcement unit.

The department's deputy director, Ismail Mamat, said steps had been taken to beef up enforcement. "We may have to enlist army personnel to help, now that we know the poachers are foreigners," Ismail said.

He said that Malayan tigers were protected under the Wildlife Protection Act 1972.

Section 64 (a) of the Act prohibits the shooting, killing, and possession of the animal or its body parts. The penalty is a maximum RM15,000 fine or five years' jail or both.

Under the Act, even the possession of any body part of protected wild animals is an offence. Under Section 64 of the Act, the penalty is a maximum fine of RM5,000 or a jail term.