Picture from The Star
Anson Wong Keng Liang aka The Lizard King, a notorious wildlife trafficker, was jailed for 6 months and fined RM190,000 for attempting to smuggle 95 snakes out of the country.
The 52-year-old Lizard King, who hails from Penang, was caught at the KL International Airport on 26 August trying to smuggle 95 boa constrictors, 2 rhinoceros vipers and a matamata turtle to Jakarta.
He was previously arrested and prosecuted in the United States in June 2001 where he served a 71-month jail term and was fined US$60,000 (RM187,000) for wildlife trafficking.
According to a report in the Star, Anson Wong started his wildlife trading business by exhibiting reptiles at the previous Bukit Jambul Reptile Sanctuary. This is apparently a portion of the Bukit Jambul Orchid, Hibiscus and Reptile Garden, a zoo in Penang he and his wife had owned.
"Zoos make good cover. Smugglers in control of a zoo can move endangered species with CITES paperwork, and a zoo can use its breeding program to explain the appearance of a new animal. CITES generally doesn't monitor what happens to an animal after a zoo imports it." - The Kingpin, a story of the Lizard King by The National Geographic.
The report further says that from the early 1990s, the Lizard King used various companies such Sungai Rusa Wildlife, CBS Wildlife and Aerofleet (an air cargo operator) to facilitate his illegal wildlife trade.
Many conservation groups had expressed disappointment with the sentence. They say the Lizard King's sentence is too lenient as he could have faced 7 years jail and fines of up to RM1 million or both under Section 10(a) of the International Trade of Endangered Species Act. The provision of the Act states that those convicted face a maximum RM100,000 fine for each animal listed under the Act, with the fine not exceeding RM1mil in aggregate, or imprisonment not exceeding 7 years, or both.
The Attorney-General's Chambers has filed an appeal against the light sentence given to the Lizard King.
Update: News on 8 October 2010 - National Parks and Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) seized 50 wild animals from farm and private orchard belonging to convicted wildlife smuggler Anson Wong and his wife:
I think it would be very difficult to curb this illegal trade as long as the pet shops and the restaurants keep fueling the demand for erotic wildlife.
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