Malaysia: Mystery surrounds Dolphin carcasses found on Penang beach

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Photo: Jeya Shah Facebook

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Photo: Department of Fisheries Malaysia Twitter

By Melissa Darlyne Chow, 5th January 2018;

Residents have been left puzzled after two Dolphin carcasses were washed ashore on a beach in Tanjung Bungah here within a week.

Sonya Shah said the first carcass was found on Dec 29, while the second was found two days ago.

While both Dolphins have since been buried at the beach, Sonya, who lives nearby, expressed her disappointment with the way the situations were handled.

“My mother and I struggled to get help as we called several fisheries, marine rescue teams and wildlife sanctuaries based in Penang and each of them passed the job onto someone else.

“Every one of them gave us different phone numbers to call and their reason for not attending to the incident was that it was ‘not their job’. They even advised us to call SPCA (Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals),” she said in a Facebook post, adding that it took several hours until a small group of people came to help.

Sonya said she had expected the Dolphins to be taken to laboratories to be examined so that their cause of death could be determined and future deaths could be prevented.

“Evidently, these deaths must have been unnatural and I am no marine biologist but I know that this could have been avoided. Whether they had been poisoned, gotten lost, suffocated, or caught a disease.

“We could have helped and it didn’t need to result in death. They are just as worthy of living as we are,” she said.

Sonya also lamented the actions of beachgoers who had a total disregard and lack of respect for the carcasses.

“People were actually throwing shingles, pebbles and shells at the carcass and when asked not to fiddle with the body, they responded with anger, hostility and impudence,” she said.

Meanwhile, activist Andrew Ng said they had contacted the Fisheries Department concerning the carcasses.

“I personally think that they didn’t do a thorough job. They just measured and buried the body.

“They didn’t determine the cause of death or take any samples from the dolphin for testing,” he told FMT.

Ng said he sent photographs of the carcasses to the Langkawi Dolphin Research Centre, which provided information on the species of the Dolphins.

“The centre said that it is an Indo-Pacific Humpback Dolphin (Sousa chinensis), a near threatened species under the IUCN (International Union for Conservation of Nature) red list,” he added.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Malaysia: Orang Asli kids kill Tiger
Malaysian Nature Society President Henry Goh said the incident took place last week in Pahang
13th October 2016;

Pictures of two Orang Asli children killing a Tiger have gone viral on social media.

Following that, a wildlife watchdog is appealing to Malaysians to come forward to identify the people behind the killing.

Malaysian Nature Society President Henry Goh said the incident took place last week in Pahang.

“The Tiger was killed with a snare, usually used by the Orang Asli. They will wait for the Tiger to walk into the sharp snare that kills the animal,” he told FMT.

Goh posted the pictures of the incident on his Facebook page today, urging people with knowledge on the incident to contact the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) at 1 300 801 010 or call MNS at 019 3564194.

He said MNS was saddened by the incident as it came at a time when there were only about 250 to 300 Tigers left in Malaysia.

The figures were obtained through footprints in the thick rainforest in Belum Forest in Pahang and Endau Rompin Rainforest in Johor.

He said poachers continue to use Orang Asli to kill wildlife in Malaysia.

“The poachers will give a bit of money to Orang Asli to kill the animals.

"In return, they make thousands in US dollars by selling the skins and other organs on the underground international market.”

MNS, he said, is hoping to preserve Tigers, which are a national symbol.

“We should protect it,” he said.

Between 2010 and 2013, more than 2,241 poachers’ traps and 1,728 illegal camp sites were discovered by NGOs conducting research in Peninsular Malaysia’s forests.

The Protection of Wildlife Act 1972 imposes a maximum penalty of a five-year jail term and a RM15,000 fine on offenders.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Malaysia: Dead Dolphin washes ashore at Tanjung Bungah beach

By Predeep Nambiar, 7th May 2016;

The carcass of what appeared to be a Dolphin (F. Delphinidae) washed up on Tanjung Bungah beach today.

A city council cleaner at work near the beach at Medan Tanjung Bungah found the dead Dolphin at about 1pm.

A group of restaurant workers on a family day outing helped to move the carcass and bury it.

Mohamad Khairi Haron, 49, said the Dolphin measured about 1.5m in length. It appeared to have suffered from a wound on its back.

“It was starting to rot and the smell was unbearable. My workers and I dug a hole by the beach and buried it,” said Mohd Khairi, who operates Markaz Nasi Kandar Restaurant in Bukit Mertajam.

Khairi and 30 of his workers were carrying out a team building exercise on the beach at that time.

One of the workers, Iqram Jamil, 23, said he had been coming to the beach over the past 10 years and had never seen anything like this.

The Penang Fisheries Department has been alerted about the find.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Malaysia: Dead Dolphin washes ashore at Tanjung Bungah beach

Malaysia: Malayan Nature Society takes authorities to task for Tiger road death
Malaysian Nature Society calls for highway planners to take safety of wildlife into account
6th February 2016;

The Malaysian Nature Society has taken highway planners to task after an adult Tiger was killed in a road accident while it was crossing the East Coast Highway II at 1am on Friday.

MNS president Henry Goh said the Tiger’s death should serve as a reminder that wildlife safety should be included in the master plan of a highway.

“Each time before a highway is built, due consideration should be given to ensure that the safety of wildlife is a part in the master plan,” he said in a statement.

Goh suggested that other agencies such as the Wildlife and Parks Department, Perhilitan, and conservation societies be involved in the planning stage of a highway.

He said the safety of other wildlife in the East Coast was also under threat as the LPT2 highway passes through forests.

“LPT2 cuts through the heartland of primary forests which are habitats to other animals such as the Tapir (Tapirus indicus), Civets (F. Viverridae) and many others.”

The Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni), found only in the Peninsula and southern Thailand, is Malaysia’s national symbol and is featured on the federation coat-of-arms.

However, the Tiger is listed as “critically endangered”, with only an estimated 250 breeding individuals alive, as a result of poaching and loss of habitat from logging, road construction, and conversion of forests to agriculture or commercial plantations.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Malaysia: Action pledged on river pollution in Penang

Scores of fish such as keli, haruan and Tilapia found dead along Sungai Dondang.
26th June 2015;

The Penang Government has directed the island city council (MBPP) to take stern action, including revoking the licences, of a vegetarian food processing factory and a laundry shop for allegedly causing the death of fish in Sungai Dondang, Paya Terubong.

On Monday scores of fish such as keli (Catfish) (Siluriformes), haruan (Common Snakehead) (Channa striata) and Tilapia (Oreochromis sp.) were found dead along Sungai Dondang, a tributary of Sungai Pinang. The Department of Environment (DOE) has taken samples of the river water for tests and the results will be known in a week.

State executive councilor Chow Kon Yeow said investigations by DOE, the Drainage and Irrigation Department (DID) and MBPP revealed that the two errant parties caused the river pollution.

He assured the outlets would face the full brunt of the law, including possible closure and fine. “The city council has been directed to take stern action against the culprits, including revoking their licenses,” Chow told newsmen when visiting the site.

Present were DID director Anuar Yahya, northeast district engineer Haslinda Mohd Hamran and DOE state director Norhayati Yahaya.

He expressed disappointment that such incidents took place despite various campaigns carried out to educate people against disposing toxic waste into rivers. The responsibility to keep rivers clean and pollution free was not only that of the authorities, but also the public, he added.

He felt sad that marine life had died and urged the public to take on the responsibility to ensure that rivers remained clean. Moreover, he said, the state received encouraging reports that the river water quality was improving.

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Malaysia: Action pledged on river pollution in Penang

Malaysia: Still no report on the Pygmy Elephants

By S M Mohd Idris, 26th 2014;

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is irked by the silence maintained by the Natural Resource and Environment Ministry (NREM), the Sabah Wildlife Department, the Sabah Police and the Deputy Public Prosecutor (DPP) regarding the death of the 14 Borneo Elephants (Elephas maximus borneensis).

In Feb 2014 there were concerns over the missing female Elephant cows believed to have been poisoned when their calves were found wandering and rescued from two plantations in Kinabatangan. Until now there have been no reports.

SAM is perturbed that such unexplained deaths of suspected poisoning has remained unsolved until today. As both the NRE and the Sabah Wildlife are responsible for safeguarding the country’s wildlife, they should not protect those responsible for the killing while at the same time ignoring the rights of wildlife species.

The especially gruesome circumstances of their deaths and the recent mystifying disappearances of two Elephant cows in particular has sparked renewed calls from SAM for the release of the report of the investigation to be made public.

What is really needed is a competent investigation procedure to ensure those who commit crimes will be brought to book and it will serve as a deterrent. The whole enforcement chain must work together resulting in prosecutions, convictions and strong penalties to stop further poisoning and killing of these remarkable creatures that is unique and special.

NGOs and the public are craving for information and this expectation must be satisfied by the authorities responsible for the necessary action. The longer it lingers the credibility of the state’s authorities will continue to be challenged and viewed with suspicion over its feet dragging, silence and inaction. The authorities must not turn both a blind eye and deaf ear to any law-breaking by either the logging or palm oil industries and allow this heinous crime to go unpunished.

The Sabah government should probe further into the matter instead of hoping that the issue will be swept under the carpet for good. Are they not interested in knowing who the culprits are? It is in the interest of the public and NGOs that the case be resolved.

We have said it before and we will say it again. For those in authorities to continue with their lackadaisical attitude towards matters of life and death in the Elephants’ own domain is to continue to let more elephants die in vain.

The authorities should do more to address their weaknesses due to increasing public expectations for accountability. Is there an investigation team to evaluate, investigate and determine the actual cause of the Elephants’ death? Such crime must be addressed with the full force of the law.

SAM calls for justice and truth and the Sabah authorities should stop pandering to or legitimising such cruel killing practices as it only serves to encourage more plantation and logging companies to continue with such horrible killings due to greed by the corporate world

Source: Free Malaysia Today

Malaysia: Still no report on the Pygmy Elephants

The photographs of the dead sea turtles were posted on Facebook by a Fisheries Department staff.

Malaysia: More dead sea turtles off Semporna
By James Alin, 16th April 2014;

Yet another merciless killing of sea turtles has occurred, this time off Semporna. It was recorded by a staff of the Department of Fisheries who was on his way home yesterday.

He took pictures of four dead sea turtles floating between Bum Bum Island and Kulapuan island and posted it on his Facebook.

According a reliable source, the WWF-Malaysia Semporna team and the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) are investigating the case.

But I am skeptical about the competency of Wildlife Department.

Meanwhile let me reveal my list of suspects.

i) Seaweed farmers. They top the list. The re-occurrence of conflict between sea turtle (known as Bokko to the islanders) and the seaweed farmers have been recorded since 1990s. The authorities are in denial about this group’s involvement. The conservation groups prefer to spread a romantic view that it’s a taboo for sea gypsies to harm these turtle. It’s also arguable the view that the Muslim islanders do not eat sea turtle meat and love sea turtle eggs.

Sea turtles are a pest to seaweed farming; they can destroy the entire seaweed farm overnight. The truth is, seaweed farmers are fed up complaining about the pest. If they can they will definitely take revenge by harming the animal.

ii) Artisanal fishermen. Sea turtles are known to forage amongst the coral reef and sea grass sections – two areas where artisanal fishing is likely to take place. Sea turtles caught in any type of fishing net will drown. When that happens, fishermen will usually dispose of the carcass, cut the net, tie the turtles and drag it away from their fishing ground. Who is there to find out when most fishing activities are done from midnight until early morning?

iii) Foreign registered fishing vessels. They are taking advantage of the richness of our sea and non-existent enforcement by SWD.

Some fishing vessels are poaching endangered, charismatic and migratory marine species like sea turtles, dugongs, dolphins and whale sharks.

The crews of these vessels are Vietnamese, Chinese or Indonesians. They are given license by the Federal Fisheries Department to do deep sea or long line fishing.

If they are caught encroaching into coastal areas or in possession of protected species, they too will dispose the evidence by throwing it to the sea.

The local owner of this Joint-Venture will declare that they did not authorize the illegal activities.

In which case what is the probability of SWD solving this case? Zero!

Poor take up

My skepticism of SWD’s ability is based on how the department has handled the case of 50 dead sea turtles in Pulau Tiga, Kudat.

A week after my report appeared on social media and online news portal, the Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment (MTCE) made a press statement denying my report.

He said, the enforcement agencies did not receive any reports from local people about the dead turtles.

Later on the Permanent Secretary for MTCE invited me to a special meeting attended by the enforcement agencies.

During the meeting, the Maritime Agency admitted they knew about the sea turtle killings in Pulau Tiga months before my field visit.

The Maritime officer showed us photos and announced their investigation was not conclusive (as no one got arrested).

The SWD official was not only late coming to the meeting but was also angry with me for not consulting his department before writing to the media.

Furthermore, he said that his department was far way from Kudat and his office did not have a speedboat to go the island.

Anyway, the next day SWD and Sabah Parks sent an investigative team to Pulau Tiga.

There is also another reason why I believe SWD will never solve the case of dead turtles in Semporna.

At the beginning of that meeting I showed slides of sea turtles kept alive inside a pen (fish cage) in Balambangan island.

I asked if any of the enforcement agencies were interested in arresting the owner. None of them showed any interest.

James Alin is a wildlife activist and senior lecturer in the School of Business and Economics, Universiti Malaysia Sabah.

Source: FMT Borneo Plus

Malaysia: Masidi wants turtle slaughter report

Sabah government is unsure of its next course of action following report of a turtle ‘slaughter house’ on an island off Kudat
By Jason Magpie, 25th March 2014;

Sabah Parks has launched an investigation into the alleged mass slaughter of turtles on Pulau Tiga for several years now.

Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun said he would wait for the department to finish its investigation before deciding what to do next.

Masidi was responding to the recent report by Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) lecturer Dr James Alin, who claimed to have seen more than 60 carcasses of sea turtles at the northern eastern tip of Pulau Tiga off Kudat.

Alin said villagers had claimed they had alerted authorities about sea poaching for years but their reports were dismissed as rumours.

He also claimed that he received a tip-off from a source in the fishing industry about the poaching activities and the slaughter of sea turtles for meat to be sold to foreign fishing vessels operating in the area.

Live adult sea turtles can be sold for as much as RM2,000 while juveniles can be sold for RM1,300, he said.

Alin claims there is a long supply and demand chain beginning from the Pulau Tiga islanders to middlemen and consumers in China, Vietnam and Japan fuelling the poaching of sea turtles.

Pulau Tiga, on the northeast of Sabah, shares the Balabac Straits with Balabac Island in Palawan. Pulau Tiga and Balabac island in the Philippines are only 50km apart.

The buyers collect live sea turtles from the Pulau Tiga islanders and take them across the border to Mangsee or Balabac Island (in the Philippines) where it is then ‘distributed’.

Middlemen coming from Mangsee buy sea turtle eggs, salted fish, abalone, live reef fish and sea cucumber at discounted price in exchange for small loans or supply of chemicals to stun live reef fish and explosive devices to bomb fish.

The money from selling sea turtle eggs and meat sustain the local families during difficult times.

Enhance border patrol

Alin said poaching of sea turtles or other endangered species and bad fishing practices will not end unless there is a strong multi-agency enforcement and cross-border cooperation with the Palawan government in Philippines.

“The solution is, enhanced cross border enforcement and the setting up of a marine park by Sabah,” he said in a paper he wrote exposing the criminal activity.

He also questioned what was the outcome of the 2002 proposal to set up the Tun Mustapha Park.

“It’s been 12 years since the proposal and regrettably it is still not gazetted due to a lengthy bureaucratic process and other unknown reasons.

“The cost of this unnecessary delay in terms of loss of biodiversity loss and environmental damage cannot be fully estimated because natural areas and wildlife are irreplaceable and irreversible.

“The delay in establishing a marine park simultaneously has created a vacuum of power for enforcement and a window of opportunities for environmental criminals and squatters to spread like a wildfire,” he said.

The existence of squatters on these small islands is bad news because their presence undermines present and future conservation efforts.

Source: FMT Borneo Plus

Malaysia: Masidi wants turtle slaughter report

Malaysia: DAP calls for urgent probe into turtle killings

Kapayan assemblyman Dr Edwin Bosi, who is a veterinarian, said the discovery of mass killings of sea turtles on Pulau Tiga island made conservation efforts meaningless.
By Calvin Kabaron, 25th March 2014;

Sabah DAP has proposed that turtle protection come under the maritime priorities of the newly-established Eastern Sabah Security Command (Esscom).

This is in view of a mass killing of sea turtles discovered by a local academician on an island near Banggi Island in the north of Sabah recently.

DAP Sabah secretary, Dr Edwin Bosi, who is also Kapayan assemblyman, called on the government to seriously consider this suggestion, adding that poaching was making conservation efforts meaningless.

“The government must explain how a mass killing of protected sea turtles could have gone unnoticed on Pulau Tiga, an area supposedly under Esscom jurisdiction,” Dr Bosi said commending Dr James Alin of Universiti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) for exposing the mass slaughter of the sea turtles.

Alin made the grim finding while on a visit to the area recently. He said he was horrified to have stumbled upon such mass slaughter of a protected species.

Alin said there were at least 60 carcasses strewn at two sites and the stench was overwhelming.

“Leftover flesh and discarded internal organs were decomposing. The carapace, plastron, head and four flippers were still intact in some of the carcasses but had no more rotten flesh. Most carapaces scattered at the sites had their scutes (bony external scales) removed,” Alin had explained of his gruesome finds.

Alin, who teaches economics in UMS, also said that villagers in the vicinity claimed they had alerted the authorities and circulated stories about sea turtles poaching in the area for years but that these were dismissed as rumours.

“What I saw struck me like a thunderbolt as a long running truth,” he said adding that ironically Pulau Tiga has been included to be under the proposed million-acre Tun Mustapha Marine Park and a premier Coral Triangle site.

Sea turtle trade

Dr Bosi, who is a veterinarian, today also called for immediate investigation on the gruesome findings, saying the culprits must be brought to justice and that the incident should never be allowed to happen again.

“Sabah Parks has been working so hard on turtle conservation at the turtle islands of Selingan, Bakkungan, Gulisan (in Sandakan) and also Sipadan (in Semporna).”

“Turtle eggs were dug and placed in protected turtle nurseries and thousands of baby turtles were released each year. Reaching adulthood for these hatchlings is already challenging.”

“Slaughtering them when they are adults is putting not only Malaysia but also the world’s turtle conservation effort years behind.

"With such lucrative sea turtle trade, extinction of the species is not too far away,” Dr Bosi pointed out.

Source: FMT Borneo Plus

Malaysia: DAP calls for urgent probe into turtle killings

Malaysia: Poachers preying on Sabah sea turtles
Buyers allegedly pay up to RM2,000 for a live adult sea turtle while their meat can fetch up to RM300 a kilogramme.
By James Alin, 19th March 2014;

In January this year, I received a tip off from a fishing taukeh in Kudat about the movement of hunters in and out of the Balambangan–Banggi channel, which lies in the northeast of Sabah’s Pulau Tiga.

According to his Bugis fishing crew, during certain seasons, these poachers were hunting turtles day and night.

He said the last time they saw the hunters was in December 2013. Five to six of them were spotted camping out at different locations in Pulau Tiga.

These poachers catch live sea turtles and take them to Balambangan where they were kept inside a pen or in fish cages until such time the numbers are enough for the ‘shipment’ to be moved to the next destination.

The hunters were said to come from Mangsee (in the Philippines), Mantabuan and Dogotan islands. The latter two along with Tigabu island are within Sabah’s purview.

The taukeh told me that one of his friends had already made a report to Maritime Enforcement Agency.

Last month I went back to the fishing community in Kudat, Pitas and Bengkoka Peninsular to gather more information about the senseless killing of sea turtles in Pulau Tiga.

Some fishermen in Bengkoka told me that they heard there were buyers for live sea turtle.

The buyers were a local from Kudat and his partners a Chinese- Malaysian and Filipino men (with Mykads).

The buyers allegedly collect live sea turtles from islanders and took them across the border to Mangse or Balabac Island in Palawan.

Once in a while they would slaughter sea turtle and hide the meat inside fish iceboxes. They then bring it across the Balabac Straits where they sell the meat to fishing vessels from mainland China and Vietnam.

This explained the horrying sight of 60 carcasses – some with a carapace, plastron, head and four limbs intact but no rotting flesh, others with the scutes removed – that greeted me three weeks earlier when I visited Pulau Tiga.

Turtle meat, a delicacy

Wholesale price for fresh turtle meat is RM300 per kg. Its RM100 a kg for dried turtle meat.

China and Vietnam fishing vessels prefer to buy live sea turtle. Live adult sea turtle can be sold at RM2,000 and whereas juveniles fetch only RM1, 300 each.

My informer in Pitas introduced me to his business counterpart, two Ubian guys who sell to him fresh and dried fish and sea cucumber sourced from Dogoton, Mantabuan, Mandidarah and Malawali islands in the Philippines.

During the interview, the two Ubian guys were bragging that they used to have dealings with a smuggling network which had clients who bought sea turtles.

But their dealings turned sour last year after they were cheated and backstabbed.

Last week I visited Tigabu (off Sabah), another small island populated with 500 Ubians, to study sea cucumber ranching, an economic activity that did not exist here six years ago.

The head of village said he was worried about the the illegal immigrants from the neighbouring islands of Dogotan.

He told me that Tigabu beach was once the nesting sites for sea turtles. He said villagers would collect and allow them to hatch in safe environment. They protected the eggs from seabirds, monitor lizards and ‘other’ prey. The villagers, he said, don’t consume the eggs because it is prohibited by Islam.

He said he had seen from time to time people wearing mask (he called them Munduk or pirates) on speed boats passing by Tigabu Island on the way to hunt turtles at the reefs near Jambongan and Kinabungan.

He also noticed that there was a drastic reduction in number of sea turtles coming to Tigabu since five years ago about the same time when more illegal immigrants came to occupy the nearby islands.

Bad news for sea turtles

Further away from Tigabu is another tiny white sandy beach island of Mantabuan.

In 2007 when I first visited Mantabuan, it was not occupied by human and there was no sea turtle nesting either because Mantabuan is submerged during high tide.

During my visit last week, I estimated there were at least 240 sea gypsies, some Cagayan and Balabac people living on Mantabuan.

Their fishing method is explosive. They use cyanide fishing and hook and line.

When my team arrived, one of the Ubian guys I interviewed in Kudat in February was there as well.

He introduced me to a sea gypsy who caught sea turtles and sold it to the highest bidders in Balambangan and Mangse.

Poaching in Pulau Tiga, Kudat is just a trail from a long supply chain begining from the islanders to middlemen and consumers in China, Vietnam and Japan.

We just have to look at what happened across border in Mangsee and Balabac Island.

In November 2013, two Malaysians – Ku Vui Hjung and Rahman Abd Rahman both from Kudat – were arrested and charged for violating Section 27 (f) of the Republic Act 9147 (Wildlife Act) by the Philippine National Police (PNP) Marine Group.

They were arrested at the island of Mangsee allegedly in possession of roughly 10,000 sea turtle eggs, two sacks of dried sea turtle meat and three sacks of dried giant clams.

In October 2013, PNP Marine Group arrested 13 Vietnamese for illegally entering Philippine waters and poaching protected marine species.

On board the Vietnamese fishing vessels were the dead remains of 300 sea turtles.

In November 2012 the PNP found and rescued 123 live sea turtles of various species hidden in three submerged cages inside a mangrove swamp in Balabac Island. No arrests were made.

Six of the 123 rescued turtles died and the surviving 117 were later released at Roughton island, which the Philippine’s had designated as a marine species sanctuary in Palawan.

On December 2011, six Chinese poachers were arrested on the South China Sea, where both nations have overlapping territorial claims.
The confiscated speedboat was loaded with 11 sea turtles and fishing equipments.

The arrest of poachers in Balabac is a clear indication that the underground market is not only well functioning but also moving the supply frontier towards the south following migration routes of the sea turtles.

This is bad news for sea turtles.

Source: FMT Borneo Plus