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SOS Rhino : In the News : Ex-servicemen to be recruited

Ex-servicemen to be recruited

  New Straits Times

The Johor National Parks Corporation is recruiting former policemen and soldiers as enforcement officers to protect wildlife sanctuaries from the mounting threat of exotic animal trade.

Although they are unlikely to be unarmed, JNPC officials are hoping that the mere presence of these enforcement officers would be enough to deter poachers and overzealous anglers.

To be operational by February, the enforcement unit will start with 10 officers focusing on tiger habitats in the lush jungles of Endau-Rompin, Gunung Ledang and Pulau Kukup.

They will be tasked to hunt down poachers and hunters and bring them to book through the enforcement of various wildlife protection laws and park enactments.

Fewer than 30 tigers remain in the wilds of Johor, one of Southeast Asia's last sanctuaries for the big cats. Other endangered species, such as the rhinoceros, also face constant threat.

JNPC director Mohamed Basir Mohamed Sali said Malaysia's tiger population was dwindling, prompting park officials to hire additional security staff.

Those with military training would be preferred since they were familiar with the harsh jungle terrain and could survive in the wild, he said.

"All we need to do is get them wellversed in our enactments and park rules," he said.

Basir was confident of finding the right candidates as he had been contacted prior to making a public announcement on the job vacancies.

"I do not know how word got out," he said, "but we are very happy that people are interested." On equipping enforcement officers with firearms, Basir said this option would only be pursued as a last resort.

"We will continue with the parks' style of ´gentle persuasion' first in handling tense situations," he said.

Another of JNPC's major concerns is the increasing threat to the rhinoceros population, which Basir will co-ordinate with the Wildlife and National Parks Department. "JNPC will launch a joint expedition with Perhilitan into rhinoceros territory in Endau-Rompin next year to find out the size of the population and help preserve their numbers."