The spread of the Covid-19 coronavirus may just save the pangolin species from being further exploited in Malaysia. Pangolins have been identified to be potential hosts that could carry pathogens by experts, including bacteria and viruses such as the Coronavirus. These pathogens could be deadly when they enter the human population.
According to an article published by The Star, the identification of pangolins as potential intermediate hosts of Covid-19 can assist wildlife conservation and awareness efforts. Chief Executive Officer of Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), Zolkipli Mohamad Aton stated that this fact can be capitalised on by the corporation in an effort to promote conservation.
Scientists in the South China Agricultural University found out that gene sequences of viruses in Pangolins is 99% identical to those in Covid-19 patients. Pangolins are notoriously known for being one of the most illegally trafficked and sold endangered species out there. Pangolins’ various body parts are believed to have medicinal purposes and it is often sold in black markets.
“We would like to advise the public not to consume exotic meat,” stated Zolkipli. He further stated that the SFC will continue its efforts in enforcement and pay more attention to raising awareness regarding pangolin smuggling. On top of pangolin smuggling, Sarawak also experiences other illegal wildlife trade, which motivates the SFC to look further into it.
The penalty is no laughing matter as protected species cannot be hunted, killed, sold, imported, exported or kept as pets. Offenders can be jailed for two years and fined RM25,000 upon conviction, or face a maximum RM30,000 fine in the case of orangutans and other similar species. Furthermore, protected animals cannot be hunted, sold or possessed without a licence issued under the Ordinance. The penalty for illegal possession of protected animals is one year of imprisonment and a fine of RM10,000 per animal.
Illegal animal trades hurt the animal population and may lead to extinction. Lets join in the effort to conserve nature and help spread awareness.
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