KUALA LUMPUR - The Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) has seized more than 1,000 items made from animal parts, including tiger skin and elephant hair, worth over RM100,000 (S$34,000).
The seizure and arrest of three Indian nationals were made under the department's operation, dubbed Ops Geng Rajja.
The three suspected illegal wildlife traders were arrested in Jalan Pudu, while the animal parts were in the room of a budget hotel nearby.
Perhilitan enforcement director Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said the 1,241 items recovered by the Wildlife Crime Unit was this year's biggest seizure.
They included rings and bracelets made from elephant hair, veins of wild animals, tiger teeth and claws.
"I believe the parts are from India and they wanted to sell them here," he said.
Abdul Kadir said wildlife trafficking in Malaysia was influenced by many factors and the authorities were combating different smuggling syndicates, which used constantly changing methods to carry out their crimes.
"The department is committed to the fight against wildlife crimes and smuggling, and we also co-operate closely with the authorities of neighbouring countries and Interpol.
"It's a continuous activity and we will keep investigating such cases," he said.
He urged those with information on wildlife trade or smuggling to report to the department.
"And as we all know, it's only when the buying stops that the killing can too," he said.
Wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic said Malaysia's biodiversity made it an ideal source country for wildlife trade.
"Malaysia is still rich in biodiversity so it's a source country. Its strategic location and superb infrastructure and logistics make it great for transit and trade.
"There is significant demand for protected and endangered species within the country and many people see wildlife trade as a business opportunity," said Traffic's senior communications officer Elizabeth John.
"And like the rest of South-East Asia, Malaysia struggles to stop smugglers at its borders, entry and exit points."