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MCMC to help curb online wildlife trade
Published on: Thursday, September 14, 2017

Kota Kinabalu: The Sabah Wildlife Department is working with the Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to help track individuals trading wildlife illegally online.

Its Director Augustine Tuuga said as many of the culprits do not use their real identity, the commission's expertise and resources are needed to identify and locate them.

"MCMC has its way to track who and where they are," he said at the Maritime Environmental Security Workshop, here, Wednesday.

Although technology helps, he admitted that it will still take conventional approaches on the part of the department to provide hard evidence in order to charge the culprits in court.

"MCMC can help us to locate their address but the wild animal may be kept somewhere else.

We're working closely with the commission but there's still a lot of hard work on our part to arrest them.

It's not easy but we will get them," he added.

Workshop participants had earlier heard about the challenges faced by the department in trying to curb wildlife trade in Sabah where Dr Pakeeyaraj Nagalingam from the Wildlife Rescue Unit highlighted concerns over the use of social media platforms for trading.

He disclosed there have been many WhatsApp and Facebook accounts set up for the purpose of buying and selling domestic animals and wildlife.

"They advertise animals for sale by taking videos or screenshots and put them up for everybody to see," he said.

Dr Nagalingam admitted there is no way to know how many social media accounts are out there which are involved in this but one had a huge following of 24,000 members in 2015, including government servants, teachers and people from different backgrounds.

He said transaction of a wildlife between an online trader and buyer is usually done very fast.

"Once a pangolin was sold in just one hour," he said, adding that the mode of payment can be in the form of banking, online or cash on delivery.

He lamented that most often than not wild animals suffer during delivery where they endure long hours without water and food.

He recalled a case involving a civet which was kept in a box and delivered using a public bus undetected.

During the 10-hour journey, it was left without water and food.

Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) states that while techniques for subverting the law or avoiding detection on the Internet are continuously evolving and becoming more sophisticated, contemporary international law has fallen behind in its consideration of wildlife trade conducted via the Internet.

It laments that "despite recognition by international law enforcement agencies, governments, non-governmental organisations and the general public of the challenges associated with Internet wildlife trade, some national legislation and enforcement schemes have proven insufficient in dealing with the problem." - Leonard Alaza

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