KUALA LUMPUR – (AFP) – Activists Friday slammed a two-year jail term handed to a Malaysian man over the country’s biggest seizure of illegally trafficked tiger parts as too short and a “demoralising finale” to the case.
Eight tiger skins, and 22 tiger skulls and bones were discovered at the home of Nor Shahrizam Nasir in northern Malaysia in February last year, as well as nine pieces of African elephant ivory.
A district court in northern Kedah state found Nor Shahrizam guilty Thursday of illegal possession of tiger parts and ivory and he was ordered to serve 24 months in jail, said TRAFFIC, a group that monitors wildlife smuggling.
Malaysian court or wildlife officials could not immediately be reached for comment.
TRAFFIC said it was “shocking” that no fine was imposed even though the law stipulates a mandatory fine of not less than 100,000 ringgit ($32,000).
“The short jail term and the lack of a fine are a demoralising finale to what should have been a victory against wildlife crime,” said TRAFFIC Southeast Asia regional director William Schaedla.
“We hope the lapse does not crush the spirit of those authorities who are still working hard to protect Malaysia’s 500 remaining tigers,” he added.
At the time of the smuggler’s arrest, wildlife officials said the parts were likely destined for Malaysia and neighbouring countries, adding the ivory had been made into key chains.
Activists say the smuggling of endangered wildlife throughout Southeast Asia is extensive, with some animal parts still used in traditional medicines.
They say Malaysia has become a key trans-shipment point for smuggled animal goods, such as ivory.
In December, Malaysian customs officials seized 1,500 elephant tusks hidden in a timber shipment from the west African nation of Togo, the largest haul in the country to date.