JOHOR, MALAYSIA (October 19, 2017) – Thirty individuals were arrested during the recent Endau-Rompin Johor National Park Khazanah Operations (Ops Khazanah) – an anti-poaching effort involving the Royal Malaysia Police (RMP), Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) Johor, Johor State Forestry Department (JPNJ), Johor Immigration Department, Johor Department of Veterinary Services, Johor National Parks Corporation, and Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia Program (WCS Malaysia).

The arrests included 13 foreign nationals from Indonesia and Vietnam, in addition to 17 Malaysians. Over 70 kg of wild meat consisting of monitor lizard, fresh-water softshell turtles, wild pig and suspected crocodile, as well as 11 wild birds, including a raptor were seized during the enforcement operation. Commercial sale of wildlife is illegal without a permit throughout Johor, Peninsular Malaysia

In addition, some 87 grams of drugs, including an anti-depressant, along with a freezer unit and three wire cages were among other items seized.

“The arrest of foreign nationals from Vietnam and Indonesia during the Op Khazanah anti-poaching patrols is important,” said Police Commissioner Dato’ Tajudin Md Isa, Bukit Aman Director of the Department for Prevention of Crime and Community Safety (JPJKK) at the Op Khazanah closing ceremony in Kahang on Monday. “It highlights the international links associated with poaching and the need for various enforcement agencies, including the Department of Immigration, to work together to ensure that Malaysia’s natural treasures continue to remain in Malaysia.”

Dato’ Tajudin thanked all agencies involved and all the RMP personnel for their support, stating that the success would not have been possible without everyone giving it top priority.

Also present at the closing ceremony announcing the arrests was Tuan Mohd Khairi Ahmad, Deputy Director of Perhilitan, who accompanied the Police Commissioner, invited guests and members of the press to view the seized items displayed in the hall. He remarked that working with RMP was highly practical as they were able to effectively apprehend offenders.

Earlier this year, five Cambodian agarwood poachers and a Malaysian of Cambodian descent were nabbed at Jalan Peta-Kahang, in Kluang District, with 25 kg of agarwood. More recently, Perhilitan seized several carcasses of wild pigs, Bornean bearded pigs, as well as their parts, valued at about RM 10,000, during a raid at the outskirts of Kota Tinggi.

Several commendable efforts have been made to ensure that poaching of wildlife and natural resources is curbed. The 1Malaysia Biodiversity Enforcement Operation Network (1MBEON) conducted two operations in March and September this year with the Malaysian Armed Forces in Endau-Rompin Johor National Park.

Said WCS Malaysia Director, Dr Melvin Gumal: “It is good that the Royal Malaysia Police has given much priority to safeguarding our national heritage. The involvement of so many police officers and their various sections is extremely heartening. It is especially so as wildlife is important to our national culture.”

“Imagine this, our iconic tiger is on our national Malaysian emblem, on the RMP emblem as well as the popular and successful Johor football team. Where would we be if this wonderful animal which represents all wildlife is absent, leaving a gaping hole in our emblems?” added Dr Gumal.

He also stressed that, as the poachers appear incessant, large operations as well as smaller, surgically focused ones are needed to thwart the poachers. WCS Malaysia commends the effort by the agencies involved and will continue to support all efforts to thwart poachers.