Police arrest 4 poachers based on Orang Asli's complaints

Published: 13 April 2015

These are not the poachers. But Jahais from the village returning from a fishing trip. The fish are a main cource of protein for the community. Poaching has resulted in reduced fish numbers and sizes. Photos related to the story will be uplated as soonas we get them from the villagers.

On Saturday night, we received desperate calls from the Jahai at Kampung Selaor in the (former) PITC forest concession close to the Perak-Kelantan border. A group of 7 men from Kelantan had entered their traditional lands and proceeded to camp overnight in the remote forest in what was supposed to be a weekend of fishing and hunting.

The Jahais tried to stop them and ask them to leave but they responded by pointing one of the two shotguns they had at them.  According to the Jahais, they then proceed to 'bomb' the river using home-made explosives. This is a common method used by poachers to stun fish in a pool making it easy for them to just pick up the fish. The practice tends to kill fish of all sizes indiscriminately and so has been rightly banned. The poachers are especially after the expensive (and endangered) Kelah species.

Early Sunday morning, we received another desperate call. And after hearing what they said about how their complains to the Forest Department and the Fisheries Department has fallen on deaf ears in the past – according to the Jahais, "Itu bangsa kita juga; mereka pun perlu cari makan"  was the usual refrain they got – it was decided to inform the police in Grik.

The Jahais also said they had in the past asked for help from the conservation groups doing research there but they said they were not able to do anything.

I should add that I too was not at all hopeful that the police would take any action when I called them at 8am on Sunday, 12 April. But En. Abdul Rahman who was manning the Bilik Gerakan at the Grik Police Station saw the seriousness of it all, especially when he was told that the poachers had two shotguns among themselves.

A police team then went up to the village, some 70 km away and, with the help of the Jahais, located the poachers. Arrests were then made. In the ensuing melee, four of them were arrested while the other three escaped into the forest. This was at about 1.30pm.

The Jahais at Kampung Selaaor and Kampung Klab further in have been complaining to us that they are facing difficulty in getting food and cash as the forest and other officials have been making it very difficult for them to eke out a subsistence from the forest resources. They are stopped from gathering rattan other forest products which they sell to get cash. They are also not allowed to hunt many of the species they used to be able to. They have also made a plea for food which we hope to respond this week.

Photos of the incident to follow as soon as we get thm from the Jahais.

CN-COAC | 13 April 2015