Smuggling of magpies from Malaysia is escalating

A big jump in Oriental magpie-robin (Copsychus saularis/burung murai kampung) smuggling is causing worry about the species becoming extinct.

According to a report published by The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (Traffic) and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN) today, 26,950 birds were confiscated between January 2015 and December 2020, with 17,736 seized last year, accounting for nearly 66 per cent.

The report added that trafficking was still rife despite the restriction in movement of people and goods due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The non-governmental organisation said the big local and international demand – particularly from Indonesia — for the songbird has created a worrying situation which could lead to uncontrolled trapping and extinction.

“Using the minimum asking price of RM7 and maximum of RM450 recorded from Traffic’s online trade studies in Malaysia in 2019 and 2020, and considering that these seized birds are highly suspected to have originated from Malaysia, the estimated value of the seized birds works out to between RM188,650 and RM12,127,500.

“Malaysian and Indonesian authorities definitively reported that 17,314 (64%) birds were smuggled from Malaysia to Indonesia which points to Malaysian populations of the Oriental Magpie-robin being increasingly targeted to feed demand in neighbouring countries, particularly Indonesia,” the report said.

It added that of the 44 seizures, 20 were in Indonesia, 23 in Malaysia (in Johor, Melaka, Sarawak and Sabah, involving 17,997 birds) and one in Singapore.

“Peninsular Malaysia (especially Johor and Melaka) and Sarawak in particular are clearly implicated as source locations, as well as points of origin for smuggling into neighbouring countries,” the report said.

Southeast Asia Traffic director, Kanitha Krishnasamy, recommended in the report better collaboration between Malaysia and Indonesia to investigate and prevent the illegal trade, as well as improved regulation across Malaysia.

The report stated that “currently, the species is not on any of the country’s protected species lists except Sabah’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997”.

Source: BERNAMA News Agency

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