Article in National Geographic an exposé on Wong’s escapades

Article in National Geographic an exposé on Anson Wong’s escapades

PETALING JAYA: An online “exposé” by the National Geo­graphic magazine on Asia’s wildlife trade prominently features Anson Wong, the former Malay­sian wildlife trafficker.
The 15-page feature by Bryan Christy talks about Wong’s escapades in the illegal wildlife trade, his 1998 arrest in Mexico by United States undercover agents, and his future alleged trade plans as he lives his life in Penang.
Christy, who is the author of Lizard King, in which Wong was a key character, also wrote in detail about a trip to Wong’s office in Penang back in 2007.
It was then, Christy claimed, that he learned of Wong’s plans to set up a zoo known as Anson Wong Flora and Fauna Village where he would display reptiles and focus on tigers.
The article claimed that Wong was back in business and now “frequents Internet message boards, seeking reptiles from India, Madagascar, and Sudan, insects from Mozambique, and ‘10 tons a month’ of sheep horns.”
“He has offered to sell an array of wildlife, including Malaysian reptiles, mynah birds, parrots, and half a million dollars’ worth of wild agarwood, prized for its aromatic qualities. To a request for dead birds and mammals, he replied, ‘We have always specimens’, ” Christy’s report claimed.
Christy met with Wong after being introduced by Mike Van Nostrand, one of Anson’s customers and owner of Strictly Reptiles in South Florida, which was among the world’s largest reptile import-export wholesalers, the article said.
In a rare interview last August, the elusive Wong spoke to The Star journalist Hilary Chiew about his past illicit operations, the undercover stint that led to his arrest and his current life.
The Starprobe article saw Wong denying that he was the “Pablo Escobar of the wildlife trade”.
He also stressed that he had remained “clean” since his return here in 2004.
In the article, Christy also talked about his allegations and encounter with Perhilitan deputy director-general Misliah Mohamad Basir in 2007 and her thoughts on Wong and on Chris Shepherd from Traffic, which monitors the trading of protected species.
Christy, in the article, also quoted a 2008 Perhilitan statement that Wong had carried out his business legally and complied with requirements under the domestic law and that “he and his business have been monitored closely by this department.”
Wong was convicted in 2001 of trafficking in highly-endangered species by the US government and jailed for 71-months. He was released in November 2003.


Stolen riches

Stolen riches

Tuesday December 15, 2009
Stolen riches


Poachers are plundering the forests of Belum and Temengor.

WILDLIFE at the 3,000sqkm Belum-Temengor Forest Complex in the upper reaches of Perak is fast vanishing due to rampant poaching. Even the gazetted 1,175sqkm Royal Belum State Park within the complex has not been spared, despite it being a protected forest.

The poaching problem has been highlighted over the past year by nature groups but in October, received “royal” attention during a conference to develop an Integrated Master Plan for Belum-Temengor in Ipoh.

Orang asli collecting bamboo at the Belum-Temengor forest. They fear confronting poachers who were normally armed

The Raja Muda of Perak, Raja Dr Nazrin Shah, when opening the conference, noted the problem of poaching in the area and attributed it to inadequate laws and ineffective enforcement.

Rangers of the WWF Wildlife Protection Unit (WPU) and the Wildlife and National Parks Department who patrol the jungle along the Grik-Jeli highway, have nabbed 10 poachers and removed 102 snares since January, according to WWF senior programme officer Ahmad Zafir Abdul Wahab.

He said the WPU, comprising orang asli youths, also discovered 37 access points into the forest on both sides of the highway.

“A camp used by poachers, seladang bones, pangolin scales, bags of gaharu, an elephant carcass and a snared wild boar left to die by poachers were found 20m to 100m away from the highway. The unit also helped rescue a tiger caught in a snare,” he told reporters during a media visit to the forest in early November.

Ahmad Zafir said several bags of rice and weapons have also been recovered from the camps and from the arrested poachers.

“The poachers are armed. Imagine what can happen if some innocent trekkers stumbled on their camp,” he said.
Vanishing: WWF Malaysia senior programme officer Ahmad Zafir inspecting the skull and bones of an elephant killed by poachers in a forested area near the Grik-Jeli highway.

“The Belum-Temengor forest complex is the second largest remaining block of natural forest in Peninsular Malaysia, after the greater Taman Negara landscape and yet, only Royal Belum has been gazetted a state park but not the other areas in Temengor lake,” said Ahmad Zafir.
He added that an increase in logging activities on the shore of the lake south of the highway has resulted in the opening of more trails for timber lorries. These trails are conveniently used by poachers to move into the jungle with their vehicles.

“The many forested islands in the lake provide easy landing and exit points for those involved in illegal activities,” he said, adding that poachers are known to use the Trojan jetty near the TNB station.

Resort operator Steve Kong said rare flowers, orchids, medicinal plants and fish have been plundered.
“There are all sorts of nets in the lake, especially at the river mouths. You can hardly find a decent-sized kelah or toman nowadays,” he said.

The orang asli who reside on islands in the lake fear harassment by poachers and have been slighted by the authorities when they made reports.
“The orang asli have reported poaching activities to the various authorities but to no avail. Instead, they are branded as trouble makers,” said one orang asli.

WWF species conservation manager Reuben Clements said Belum-Temengor, together with Taman Negara and Endau Rompin, are priority areas for tiger conservation due to their large forested areas.
But his team has found numerous sites with signs of poaching in Temengor last year.

The trapped tiger found in the Royal Belum Forest Reserve in Grik.

“The rescue of the Malayan tiger with its front right paw caught in a snare in October shows the severity of the problem. The tiger later died at the Malacca Zoo of infection and extreme stress after undergoing surgery to have its right fore leg amputated. This incident clearly demonstrates the need for a stronger enforcement presence in the Belum-Temengor forest.”
Hopefully, the adoption of the National Tiger Action Plan by the National Biodiversity-Biotechnology Council on Nov 5 will spell better things for the tiger. Malaysia currently has an estimated 500 wild tigers, down from about 3,000 in the 1950s. Deputy Prime Minister, Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin, who chairs the Council, said the Government would take concrete efforts to protect the tiger and widen wildlife protection areas, in order to achieve the Plan’s goal of doubling tiger numbers by 2020.

Meanwhile, the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat) is promoting public awareness on tiger conservation in areas close to tiger habitats, particularly because many people there are either directly involved or closely connected to wildlife crimes.

Mycat held such programmes at SK Felda Lawin Utar, SMK Kenering and at markets in Kampong Bandariang, Kampong Lawin and Grik in early November.

“Our volunteers approached individuals, business owners, operators of bus and taxis stands, and asked them to assist in distributing awareness materials to their customers,” said Mycat programme co-ordinator Loretta Ann Shepherd. “Provocative posters of snared animals were used to emphasise the cruelty and illegality of using snares to trap wild animals.”


Woman found rearing wildlife in condominium

Woman found rearing wildlife in condominium

SHAH ALAM: A 25-year-old hotel worker was arrested for keeping a baby Honey Bear, a Leopard Cat and a Slow Loris in a condominium unit in Desa Pandan, Kuala Lumpur.

All the animals, which are endangered species, were found in individual cages in the unit, where the woman was living with her male relative.

The woman has since been released on bail untill Dec 29 after giving her statement.

The animals were found during a raid carried out on Friday evening by the enforcement officers from the Selangor Wildlife Department following a public tip-off.

Department deputy director Mohammad Khairi Ahmad said they were now looking for the woman's male relative, who is in his 30s, to help the department in its investigation.

He said only the woman and the animals were in the house when enforcement officers arrived.

Initial investigation showed the animals could have been bought from orang asli in Negri Sembilan and kept as a pet in the condominium in the past three months, he told a press conference here on Monday.

Khairi said the baby bear could be sold for about RM5,000 while the cat and the slow loris was worth about RM500 each in the market.

He warned that the public not to keep or buy wildlife as it was against the law.

"This case is only the tip of the iceberg and we believe there are many out there who are having wild animals as pets in their home.

"This is not the way to love the wildlife. They belonged to the wild," he added.

Khairi also said usually, a hunter would have to kill the mother of a cub before he could take away the animal, which was a cruel act.

He added that the department would get a court order to send the animals to the Malacca Zoo or released them back to the wild.

Mini wildlife zoo in condo

Mini wildlife zoo in condo

SHAH ALAM: A 25-year-old wo-man has been arrested for keeping a young Malayan Honey Bear, a Leopard Cat and a Slow Loris in a condominium unit in Desa Pandan, Kuala Lumpur.

All the three, classified as endangered species, were found in individual cages in the unit, occupied by the woman and her male relative.

The hotel worker, who had her statement recorded, is out on bail until the mention of the case on Dec 29.

She claimed that the animals belonged to the relative who was not at the condominium when enforcement officers from the Selangor Wildlife and National Parks Department raided it on Friday.

They went to the condominium following a tip-off from the public.

Deputy director of the Selangor department Mohammad Khairi Ahmad said they were looking for the male relative, who is in his 30s, to help them in their investigation.

He told a press conference yesterday that initial investigations showed the animals could have been bought from orang asli in Negri Sembilan and kept as pets.

Khairi said the bear could fetch RM5,000 while the big cat and the slow loris were worth about RM500 each in the market.

He warned the public not to keep or buy wildlife as it was against the law.

“This case is only tip of the iceberg. We believe many people out there are keeping the wild animals as pets in their homes.

“This is not the way to love wildlife. They belong in the wild.”

Khairi said that to get a baby bear, a hunter usually had to kill its mother first.

He added that the department would get a court order to send the animals to the Malacca Zoo or release them back to the wild.


Have you seen a sun bear building a tree nest?

Have you seen a sun bear building a tree nest?

Have you seen a sun bear building a tree nest? I bet you have NOT!

Many people not even know about sun bear or seen a sun bear, let alone seeing one of them making a nest high on top of the trees.

Here is a rare opportunity of a lifetime to see a radio-collar sun bear building a nest in the rainforest of Borneo.

Don’t blink and please hold your breath until the end of the video.

Tree nest

Sun bears in the wild make nest on tree and sleep on these tree nest like orangutans. However, nest building behavior is more common in forest where human disturbance is higher and large terrestrial predators like tigers, and leopards are presence. It makes sense for sun bears to make such tree nest and sleep on high on tree, some as high as 40 meters (128 feet) because it is much safer and dryer on top of tree. These nests usually consist of a pile of tree branches and twigs that are band over from the surrounding centered at a tree fork that close to the main trunk. The diameter of these tree nests ranges from a 1 to 2 meter. Unlike orangutan nest, sun bear rarely snap branches or break branches close by. I still lack of evident that they reuse these tree nests, and believe that they construct new nest every time they need one because wild sun bears tend to wonder a large range, unless there are important food resources available like a fruiting fig tree in the forest. Under this situation, sun bears tend to hang around the area until the food resource is depleted and they have to move on to forage for food. Although the metal baskets that we provide for our captive bears are very different from the natural nest, these bears still love them because these baskets give them a dry, safe, and cozy bed.

You can read more about the nest building behavior in my earlier blog: