Text by Wong Siew Te
The magnificent yet unfortunate Sunda clouded leopard mentioned in earlier blog was not unique. Others, many others in fact, wildlife in this part of the world also faced similar fate. Few years ago a friend of mine from Sarawak sent me similar photos- photos of a decapitated sun bear taken in Sarawak. I have seen many photos of dead animals, witnessed many dead animals with my own eyes and I personally dissected many dead animals. In theory I should be able to take it but at that time I can’t. The photos of this decapitated sun bear were so powerful that I nearly cannot take it.
It is truly sad to see this decapitated sun bear and the decapitated clouded leopard. Although both of the two mammal species are totally protected by wildlife protection law in the country, the lack of interest, capacity, and ability to enforce the wildlife laws by the government authority make these laws like never exist. Paper laws so to speak. During my visit to Sarawak I also witness an interesting scene: few billboards erected to educate the public not to kill and to eat game meat. One of them showed all the protected species in Sarawak. The other one was a warning on consuming wild meat. The wording in three languages read:
Under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998, it is an offence to “buy or sell or offer for sale or claim ro be offering for sale, any wild mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian, or any recognizable part or derivative thereof” if that animal has been taken from the wild. This means that all sale of wild boar, deer meat, pigeons, terrapins, frogs or any other meat taken from the wild is an offence.
The penalty to sell or offer for sale or claim to be offering for sale, any wild mammal, bird, reptile or amphibian, or any recognizable part or derivative thereof for this offence is a fine of RM5,000.
It is also an offence to buy any items, and the penalty for doing so is a fine of RM2000.
Offenders may be charged in Court”
Under this attitude, wildlife suffered. Clouded leopard, sun bear, and other wildlife suffered and being decapitated and eaten until they are locally extinct. When they are locally extinct, two phenomena may happen: the price of that particular species raise and poachers has to go further in the remote forest to hunt or other less preferred species are now becoming a target species. Across the world there were many examples showing these two situations.
In the case of decapitated sun bear and clouded leopard, obviously the authority has failed us. They were paid and hired to protect the country’s wildlife yet they failed. Mohandas Gandhi once said, “When the people lead, the leader will follow.” I think it is time for all of us to lead, to act, and to protect our wildlife. We have to realize that we all have the responsibility to ensure their survival and the power to protect them. We can report to the local authorities, conservation NGOs who act like watch dogs with teeth for the authority, or even the local press on the unlawful activities of killing and harming wildlife. We can act to support and help spread the words for organizations that aim to protect wildlife like BSBCC or other wildlife rescue centre so that they can do their work to rescue wildlife. There a lot we can do to help these animals that share the same planet Earth with us. Like I always said, do what you do best to help sun bears and other wildlife. Together we CAN, we DO, and we WILL make a difference!