ANIMAL lovers want stricter action against the illegal online sale of protected animals and exotic wildlife.
A quick search on Facebook and Instagram revealed various local accounts selling a variety of wild animals to be adopted as pets, from RM300 to RM4,500 each.
The animals on sale included the goshawk eagle, Asian palm civet, slow loris, marmoset, dusky leaf monkey, peacocks and various birds.
The dusky leaf monkey, in particular, is a favourite among Malaysians due to its attractive orange fur. Owners would spam their timeline with photographs and videos of the animal, all dressed up and feeding on bottled milk.
Netizen Bam Arrogancia said it had become trendy to own a baby monkey just to look cute and cool.
“You may be happy, but not those innocent creatures. They have been displaced from their natural habitat, away from their family,” she said.
Bam claimed that the dusky leaf monkey would normally live for a few months under the owner’s care due to its complex digestive system.
She said the food and milk formula fed to them were unsuitable, and even detrimental to their health.
“When you buy them, you are actually killing them slowly. Please, have some compassion!” she said.
She claimed that the seller was lying if he said the monkey was already licensed.
Twitter user @fazreenfazerra expressed her anger by posting a status in capital letters, telling people not to buy the animals.
She added that she had friends who bought them, and all died not long after.
Another user, posting as tweethandle @cikcuyie, attached photos of a monkey, with one looking frail and ill after vomiting and excreting green faeces.
“Please stop taking wildlife from their habitat. They’re not meant to be pets,” she said.
Aida Zuleika, on Facebook, shared the original posting by Bam, and shortly summarised it with: “OMG! Please stop this cruelty!”
On Facebook, a single post auctioning three baby Asian leopard cats by an online seller garnered more than 50 comments asking to “PM tepi” (private message them the details) and more than 2,000 views nationwide. Each kitten was sold for RM550 without licence.
Another seller, promoting a nine-week old white gibbon for RM5,500 gained 29 comments, 25 shares and 16 likes online, within just a week.
Perhilitan enforcement division director Salman Saaban said the department was monitoring nearly all social media accounts that had been viralled for selling these animals which were on the illegal wildlife trade list.
He said the online traders merely acted as middlemen or brokers, making it difficult to arrest them without the wildlife in their possession.
He said these traders usually sourced the animals from illegal suppliers and smugglers, adding that selling these animals was also illegal.
Salman said the department was continuously monitoring these illegal suppliers and smugglers through its network of informers and intelligence agents.
He stated that there were legitimate businesses selling wild animals which were registered with the department and had the proper documentation.
Salman said various animals sold online needed specific licences to be kept as pets such as the palm civet and dusky leaf monkey under First Schedule of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 (Act 716).
He urged pet owners who no longer wanted to care for their wild and exotic pets to surrender them to the department for rehabilitation before they were released back into their natural environment.
When asked how many had done so, he responded, “Only a few”.
Salman said the department did conduct random checks on those who had wildlife animals without licences but admitted that it was difficult to do house-to-house check.
He added that they would act when there was a report lodged, such as when people were attacked by the animals.
However, he added that many owners chose not to report to Perhilitan, mainly due to the fact that the pets were purchased and kept illegally.
“I would advise people not to take wildlife creatures as pets because they are meant to be in the jungle and not in homes.”
He urged the public to visit http://www.wildlife.gov.my for further information.
The website also contains a variety of online services, including information on licence application; complaint submission forms, and permit application details, among others.