KUALA LUMPUR – A Chinese national who was arrested four years ago for smuggling elephant tusks was again nabbed by the authorities for the same offence together with 12 others last month.
In 2013, the suspect, aged 54, who tried to smuggle elephant tusks out of the country, was detained by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport, and was fined RM200,000.
However, he had clearly not learnt his lesson.
Perhilitan Director-General Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said all the men who were members of a syndicate were detained at the end of last month in five separate raids.
“This time around, we seized body parts of wild animals including elephant tusks, tiger fangs, hornbill beaks, bear gallbladders, tiger skins, bear claws and anteater skins, altogether estimated to be worth RM2 million. This is the biggest seizure this year.
“The items are believed to be for medicinal and decorative purposes. A total of 111 elephant tusks were seized this time, and we believe they are from the African elephants based on their large size compared to local elephants,” he told reporters here today.
Abdul Kadir said all the confiscated items would be sent to the Forensics Department for further analysis.
He said in the first raid last Thursday conducted on a house in Sungai Buloh, 58 elephant tusks kept in several boxes were seized.
“In the raid, two local men aged 51 and 54 were detained,” he said.
“In the second raid conducted on the same day at about 6.30pm at an industrial premises in Rawang, Selangor, we detained two Chinese nationals, both aged 54, and seized 53 elephant tusks.
“In the third raid on a house in Jalan Ipoh here at 6.30pm last Friday, a bag containing the skin of anteaters, two plastic bags containing what is believed to be bones and skull of a tiger, the head of a hornbill, 45 parts of beaks believed to be from hornbills, were seized,” he said, adding that no arrests were made in this raid.
In a fourth raid on a house in Taman Prima Puchong, Selangor at 1pm on Tuesday, the department seized several boxes containing silver accessories made from wildlife parts, 10 tiger fangs, 21 bear claws and two tiger skins.
They also detained seven Vietnamese men aged between 22 and 33, he said.
In the last raid at 1.30pm on Wednesday conducted on an industrial premise in the OUG Industrial Park, Jalan Puchong, a Vietnamese man aged 24 was detained.
The department also seized 14 bear gallbladders, an ivory pendant, a bear claw and a tiger fang.
All the suspects were detained under Section 68 of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716) and could be sentenced to a fine of not less than RM100,000 up to a maximum of RM500,000 and a jail term of up to five years, if convicted.
“Each of the animal body parts which were seized had its own special use.
“For instance, the skin of the anteater could be used in traditional medicine for skin ailments while the tiger fangs, elephant tusks and tiger claws would be used as accessories,” he said.
Abdul Kadir added that the syndicate was believed to have a wide network, and the department was still hunting down the masterminds.
He said the transactions were conducted on social media such as on Facebook to avoid detection by the authorities.
“We also believe the tusks were to be exported to Vietnam and China or maybe even for the local market,” he said. – BERNAMA