Exotic wildlife meant for sale in Brunei rescued in Miri

|     Hakim Hayat     |

VARIOUS species of endangered wildlife, some believed to be intended for smuggling into and sale in Brunei, have been rescued from pet shops in Miri following a major raid by Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) enforcement units, Malaysian newspaper The Star reported yesterday.

Some 54 animals were rescued during the raids on seven pet shop premises believed to be acting as fronts to sell wildlife for huge commercial profits.

These included totally-protected and protected wildlife species such as long-tailed macaques, rare hill mynas, near-extinct birds such as budgies, love birds and red whiskered bulbul, rare parrots, exotic cherry head conures, exotic Indian star tortoises, red footed tortoises and rare green lizards.

SFC Chief Executive Officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton said the raids were carried out following public tip-offs about the illegal activities taking place at the pet shops.

“The SFC conducted inspections and raids from July 15 to 18. Commercial transactions and the illegal possession of wildlife contravene the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998. The possession of these wildlife illegally is a serious crime,” he told reporters last Saturday.

Zolkipli warned that anyone who caught and supplied wildlife to these pet shops was also committing a serious crime.

“Anyone who hunts, traps, captures, kills, imports, exports, possesses, offers for sale and sells any totally protected and protected animal or their body parts is committing a serious crime too,” he warned.

The Star reported that there have been many complaints on pet shops in Miri selling animals living in cruel, cramped conditions.

The newspaper added that they also learnt that among those who frequently buy these wildlife included foreigners, who would buy the animals from the pet shops and smuggle them across the border into Brunei.

The exotic animals can fetch thousands of Brunei dollars each as they are considered prized trophies especially by the rich here. It is said that a baby hornbill and baby macaque can fetch up to BND5,000 each.