PETALING JAYA - Hundreds of threatened animals are up for sale online, a study by a green group tracking several local Facebook groups found.
In a five-month survey from 2014 to last year, wildlife trade watchdog Traffic South-East Asia found 236 different posts with protected animals such as the sun bear and slow loris "not very secretly" being sold for up to thousands of ringgit each.
"Many Malaysians are online on Facebook, buying and selling protected wildlife.
"There seems to be very little fear of getting caught," its senior communications officer Elizabeth John told The Star.
Released online yesterday, the report shows some 106 unique individual sellers and four shops offering wild animals in posts spanning 14 Facebook groups.
The searches came up with Traffic only spending about 30 minutes to browse these Facebook groups each day during the study.
A majority of these animals being sold were also native to Malaysia.
The report added that only three of the 236 posts mentioned licences together with the sale of these animals.
"Any reference to licences is rare," it said.
Malaysian law states that anyone who hunts or keeps any protected wildlife without a licence can be fined up to RM50,000 or jailed for up to two years.
The penalties are higher for young or female protected animals.
John believed that what Traffic found was only the tip of the iceberg.
"I'm sure if we widened the search ... We will find a lot more," she said.
The report comes over a week after an exclusive report by The Star showed how easy it was to buy an endangered animal online.
A totally protected Brahminy kite priced at RM600 was sent to a hair salon for final delivery after just two days and a few Whatsapp messages. The shop was later raided by Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) officers.
Perhilitan enforcement division director Hasnan Yusop said the trend of selling protected animals online was difficult to police.
"Users from each of the many groups or pages come from individuals that use fake accounts to confuse the authorities," he said.