NEW YORK (26 April 2016) –Between 18th April to 25th April 2016, a multi-agency enforcement initiative called Operation Khazanah (Op Khazanah) was held under the National Blue Ocean Strategy (NBOS). Led by the Royal Malaysia Police (PDRM), this week-long exercise to combat wildlife and forestry crimes was held in the Rompin district of Pahang and adjacent areas. PDRM Pahang, through its Department for the Prevention of Crime and Community Safety, was responsible for the organization and implementation of the operation.
A total of 293 personnel from the PDRM, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, State Forestry Department, Immigration, Veterinary Services and WCS were involved in the operation. The overall objective was to safeguard our national natural treasures by combating wildlife and forestry offences such as theft of gaharu and poaching of wildlife.
A comprehensive approach was adopted in Op Khazanah to maximize the effectiveness of the resources mobilized. The PDRM implemented a 3-pronged operational strategy. For the duration of the Operation, 24-hour roadblocks were set up at 4 strategic locations on public roads and the Marine Police were on river and coastal alert. Jungle operations were conducted in the Taman Negeri Endau Rompin by three patrol teams, each comprising 13 personnel. In addition, mobile incident units were on standby to react immediately to reports of cases.
The operation was successfully concluded on 24th April 2016 with a total of 15 cases with 28 arrests, including immigration related offences and a drug related offence. Among the notable wildlife related cases were the arrest of an offender and the seizure of 186 White-rumped Shama at the Jalan Endau-Mersing roadblock ; the arrest of an offender and the seizure of 5 snakes (cobras, pythons) at the Jalan Kuantan – Segamat roadblock ; the arrest of an offender and the seizure of 31 live Malaysian Giant Turtles, 16 live and 10 dead Soft shell Turtles at a restaurant at Kg. Kedaik ; the arrest of an offender with seizure of 4 mouse deer and a home-made shotgun with 17 rounds of ammunition at Jekatih.
A spokesman from PDRM mentioned ‘ he was pleased that the combined effort resulted in 28 arrests, of which some were involved in the illegal wildlife trade. It shows the usefulness of working together towards protecting the country’s natural treasures.’
Melvin Gumal of the WCS (Wildlife Conservation Society) highlighted that ‘the seizure of 186 white-rumped shamas from a single individual indicates the seriousness of the wild bird trade in Malaysia. He further commented that there is a need for effective and expansive operations such as this to be carried out on a sustained basis as a deterrent for future poachers.’
Puan Khariah of Department of Wildlife and National Parks who was present at the closing ceremony stated that ‘catching the snakes is a very good result as we are now aware of the modus-operandi of these poachers and traders. She further mentioned that the Department wants to try and stop wildlife trafficking at the source.’
Dato Mohd Din, with the Forest Department Pahang commented that ‘such multi-organisational enforcement helps as it does not just protect wildlife but serves as eyes-and-ears to protect the forest as well. This is especially so with the extent of illegal gaharu collection in Malaysia.’
The closing ceremony of the Operation was held on 25th April 2016 at the Majlis Sukan Negara Complex, Rompin. To underscore the importance of this initiative, it was attended by the Chief of Police, Pahang, YDH CP Dato’ Sri Sharifuddin bin Ab Ghani. While the Operation has shown immediate operational success, a long term goal is to instill a concern for wildlife and forests among the Task Force personnel. The involvement of the PDRM in combatting wildlife crime will have far-reaching impact as their considerable resources and powers can provide a much needed impetus in efforts to curb and eliminate this ever increasing threat to our natural heritage.