Buying protected animals just a screen tap away in Malaysia

Buying protected animals just a screen tap away in Malaysia
Malaysia authorities seized 20 barn owls, part of a hoard which included a Malaysian sun bear (left) and a leopard cat (right), trafficked by two Malaysian brothers. These animals are protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act.
PHOTO: The Star/ANN

PETALING JAYA - Owning a trafficked animal is just a Whatsapp message away in the age of smartphones and social media.

Checks by The Star showed that listings for ball pythons, Indian star tortoises and slow lorises - which are either protected or endangered - are posted on Facebook as well as buy-and-sell sites such as adpost.com.my, alibaba.com and mudah.my.

These transactions are usually carried out via e-mail or WhatsApp, with the animals being either transferred in person or, when possible, via PosLaju.

Often, these animals endure horrific conditions on their way to the buyer, including being packed into too tight spaces or being de-fanged or de-clawed.

A small ball python goes for as little as RM300 while larger females can sell for around RM700 (S$250).

Asked on the availability of star tortoises, one seller asked: "If my supplier can find without a licence, do you want?"

Further questioning revealed that many sellers also have slow lorises for sale at around RM500.

"But quietly lah, don't let people know," one seller said.

Another method used is to ask which "gene", the code for whether the buyer is looking for a captive bred or wild animal.

Besides live animals, animal by-products are also easily acquired.

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