Social media has now become an imperative part of people’s lives around the world. Malaysians included.
We use it as the source of our daily news, as a networking tool and as a platform to communicate with others. So, it shouldn’t be a surprise that our society is now shifting towards social media when it comes to running their business.
And this is no different for the illegal ones too.
Online traders are now selling protected and endangered animal as exotic pets and this is mainly driven by the trend that has been slowly growing since 2013.
However, as of this year, the trend seems to be in full swing and its magnitude is proven with the sheer amount of Facebook and Instagram post regarding the sales and purchase of these exotic animals.
Whenever there is a demand, there is a supply.
In this case, the supply comes through the villainous act of separating these exotic and protected animal from their family and habitat at a very young age.
The separation of these exotic animals is traumatising and detrimental to their growth.
Thus, the majority of these exotic animals are unhealthy and do not have long lifespans. This is largely due to inexperience in handling such animals that require specialized diets and needs.
Among the most popular exotic animal trader in Malaysia is Kejora Pets.
They have been operating since 2014 on various social media platform such as Facebook, Instagram and recently Telegram.
They sell various species of animal and this includes exotic animals such as Agile Gibbons, Asian Leopard Cats and Dusky Leaf Monkey.
These exotic animals are protected and endangered native animals. Some of which requires a license to own them whereas there are some which are illegal to have as pets as they are under the protection of the wildlife list.
However, the demand for these exotic animals is high due to their popularity among exotic pet enthusiast. This is because of their adorable features and petite size which attract buyers.
Thus, online traders such as Kejora Pets can fetch a high price for these animals, some even reaching to RM 5000 per exotic animal.
Although the sale of these exotic animals is unethical, however, unfortunately, it is not illegal.
Till this day, there is NO punishment for the individual caught advertising the sale for exotic animal nor posting picture of them owning an exotic animal.
All of this is because of the loophole of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.
Under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010…
Only the hunting or possession of wildlife without a permit is prohibited.
If found guilty, the prosecuted would be fined for not more than RM500,000 or to imprisonment for less than 10 years or both.
However, the selling, advertising or promotion for the sale of endangered wildlife itself is not punishable under the Act. Thus, illegal traders have been operating online by exploiting this loophole.
The modus operandi of the trade is that the online broker would arrange with an unknown wildlife keeper to get the exotic animal rather than keeping the animal themselves. After that, the broker would personally send the chosen animal to its own respective buyers at an unknown location.
Due to the nature of their modus operandi, it’s hard to prosecute these brokers or identify the source in which supplies the exotic animals. But what’s harder is to trace the whereabouts of this exotic animal after it has been sold. Therefore, making it impossible for any rescue operations to be carried out.
With that said, I would personally like to see that the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 should be amended to include selling and posting of exotic animals as a punishable offense.
Besides, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN) should collaborate with the Ministry of Communications and Multimedia to monitor the activities and track the location of these online brokers.
In addition, the public is also urged to play an active role in putting a stop towards this illegal trading of exotic animals.
This is by being the eyes and ears for the authorities which means to report any exotic animals’ sellers or trades to the relevant authority rather than scrolling pass it on social media.
It’s noteworthy that the fight against illegal animal trading is a war between all Malaysian against the outlaws. Thus, without the cooperation of all parties, we would never win this war.
It is 2018, Malaysian have voted for a change, but the question is;
Can we make a change for our fellow forgotten and victimized Malaysians?