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KUALA LUMPUR, Oct 31, 2014:

An environmental non-governmental organisation wants the government to invest more money and manpower if it is truly committed to wildlife protection.

The Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT) coordinator Wong Pui May said patrols must be focused, carried out with greater frequency and include a better informant network to combat poaching.

Poaching, she said, was the greatest threat to the survival of tigers and other wildlife.

Wong said patrols must be conducted deep into the forest, spread out over tiger priority areas and carried out by full-time trained and armed personnel.

She cited the Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in Thailand which had 284 full-time staff patrolling 19,000 kilometres every year as an example that ensured the safety of tigers and other wildlife despite its proximity to major wildlife trafficking hubs.

To achieve the same intensity of foot-patrols in the 4,343 sq km of Taman Negara, the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) would require 400 personnel patrolling the park full time.

“The current available manpower is only at about 8% of what is needed.

“The under-staffing issue has even been highlighted by the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment,” said Wong in a statement.

She said enlisting military personnel and Perhilitan staff from outside Taman Negara increased patrolling efforts temporarily, but it was still only 10% of the protection needed as it should be a full-time job.

In highlighting such efforts, she said the 1Malaysia Biodiversity Enforcement Operation Network (1MBEON) had resulted in the arrest of 13 foreigners since February.

1MBEON is an initiative under the National Blue Ocean Strategy to conduct joint patrols in protected areas to combat poaching and trespassing.

The Public Service Department, Lau said, allocated more enforcement staff to Perhilitan to improve protection in all three tiger priority areas, namely Taman Negara, Belum-Temengor and Endau-Rompin.

“At the same time, the Economic Planning Unit and Ministry of Finance should also allocate more funds to ensure rangers and enforcement staff are properly trained, equipped and compensated.”

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