KOTA KINABALU: Corruption involving the lucrative international wildlife trade is spreading rapidly and becoming hard to contain, says Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) Sabah director S. Karunanithy.
“Worldwide, bribery in crimes involving wildlife smuggling is increasingly spreading at a worrying pace and has become one of the driving forces for the illicit trade that is still hard to curb at the national and international levels.
“Bribery is no longer seen as only a local problem but has evolved into a transboundary crime phenomenon, ” he said during a workshop on laws governing anti-corruption, as well as witness and whistleblower protection.
The workshop was attended by Sabah and Sarawak wildlife-related crime investigators as part of efforts to fight against the illicit international trade of wildlife.
Karunanithy said that the trade and smuggling of wildlife internationally usually involved bribery, smuggling and money laundering.
The workshop held on July 13 and 14 was organised by the Sabah Wildlife Department, MACC and Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) as part of training for the Working Group on Wildlife Crime Intelligence.
It was also a platform for the different agencies to share the difficulties in tackling corruption in wildlife-related crimes, according to a statement released by the working group here Tuesday (July 21).
Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said that it was the first time an anti-corruption workshop was being held with a specific focus on wildlife-related crimes.
He said corruption is multifaceted and can occur at every stage of the wildlife, forestry and fisheries value chain.
“It can include bribes for information on the movement of animals or patrols, or to obtain rights and quotas, or grease the wheels of shipments, to ensure that they are not inspected or seized, ” Tuuga said.
He said it was important for his department to work with all partners to build understanding and ensure that wildlife, forest and fisheries agencies are trained and equipped to respond to corruption.
“The department is also looking forward to extending the collaboration with the MACC.
“We will work towards the creation of an organisational anti-corruption plan, ” Tuuga said during the opening of the workshop.
Danau Girang director Dr Benoit Goossens said he hoped that the workshop would help increase inter-agency collaboration to help achieve the objectives of the Wildlife State Action Plans adopted last year by the Sabah Cabinet.
“During the 2017 international workshops on proboscis monkey, Sunda clouded leopard and Bornean banteng, it was recognised that poaching, hunting, and illegal killing and trade, were real threats to these and other species in Sabah.
“The information compiled at the workshops was included in the state’s action plans for each species, specifically to increase the capacities of wildlife law enforcement agencies and of key partners in conservation, ” he said.
In particular, he said they aimed to train crime analysts, investigators, intelligence gatherers, and a certified forensic technician at the Sabah Wildlife Health, Genetic and Forensic Laboratory.
He said the US Bureau of International Narcotics and Law Enforcement Affairs has provided almost RM4mil for the enforcement and forensic programme for specialised training sessions for members of the Working Group on Wildlife Crime Intelligence.