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Poachers turn to Malaysia for endangered helmeted hornbills after Indonesian crackdown

KUALA LUMPUR — International wildlife smuggling syndicates are enticing indigenous Malaysians to hunt the endangered helmeted hornbill for its hard casque to feed the lucrative but illegal ivory market in the Far East.

Airports in Sarawak and Sabah, especially Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, are being used as the main gateways to smuggle out these “red ivory” — as the helmeted hornbill casques are called — to collectors in China and Taiwan who are willing to pay anything between US$80 (S$111) and US$100 (S$139).

Airports in Sarawak and Sabah, especially Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, are being used as the main gateways to smuggle out these “red ivory” — as the helmeted hornbill casques are called — to collectors in China and Taiwan who are willing to pay anything between US$80 (S$111) and US$100 (S$139).

KUALA LUMPUR — International wildlife smuggling syndicates are enticing indigenous Malaysians to hunt the endangered helmeted hornbill for its hard casque to feed the lucrative but illegal ivory market in the Far East.

Citing sources, The Star on Friday (Aug 30) reported that airports in Sarawak and Sabah, especially Kuching and Kota Kinabalu, are being used as the main gateways to smuggle out these “red ivory” — as the helmeted hornbill casques are called — to collectors in China and Taiwan who are willing to pay anything between US$80 (S$111) and US$100 (S$139).

One anonymous poacher interviewed by the newspaper claimed the smugglers approached locals, especially targeting the Orang Asli, to hunt the bird which is found in the peninsula as well as Sabah and Sarawak. The areas near Sarawak’s border with Kalimantan Indonesia is reportedly a prime location.

“Wildlife syndicates are using human couriers to smuggle the casques across the Kalimantan-Sarawak border and ship these red ivories through Kuching airport.

“Syndicate members would also go as far as Kota Kinabalu airport to make such shipments,” the paper quoted another anonymous source as saying.

The source claimed Kuching airport to be the main gateway on Borneo supposedly due to the lack of knowledge there about the ban on helmeted hornbill casques.

The newspaper cited another source saying Indonesian wildlife authorities have been beefing up enforcement of smuggling activities at key airports from Kalimantan, listing airports at Pontianak Supadio and Balikpapan Sepinggan in recent months, prompting the smugglers to sourcing and shipping out their illegal goods.

The Star reported Wildlife and National Parks Department director-general Abdul Kadir Abu Hassan saying authorities were also watching out for similar smuggling activities in Malaysia but urged the public to help halt the trade.

Those with information on Helmeted Hornbill poaching should contact his department of immediately, said Mr Kadir. MALAY MAIL

Related topics

sabah Sarawak environment wildlife poaching

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