KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia, Sept. 28 (UPI) -- A Malaysian law intended to deal with animal traffickers and poachers may be too late to save some of the country's endangered species, wildlife activists say.
After years of wildlife being decimated by human activities, Malaysia finally responded with a wildlife conservation law called "overdue," Inter Press Service reported Tuesday.
Conservationists, concerned that Sumatran rhinos, orangutans, Malayan tigers and clouded leopards a losing their fight for survival, will be watching how the new law is implemented.
"The tough new measures are probably four decades overdue," conservationist Mohamed Iris said. "Official neglect and corruption is fueling the international trade in threatened species and the tough new law and action against corrupt officials may be too late for some endangered species."
The bill, with significantly higher penalties and mandatory jail terms for a wide range of wildlife crimes, is expected to come into force as law in December.
"It all depends how seriously and effectively the government implement the new law," said one conservationist working to preserve wildlife habitat at a forest reserve in East Malaysia.
"If effectively enforced, the law can give wildlife a respite against open and blatant poaching."
Some feel the agencies selected to enforce the new bill are not up to the job.
"They are not modern, don't have modern equipment, they don't use modern technology and their budget is minuscule compared to the challenges they face in protecting wildlife against poaches," lawmaker Grosgrain Mirages said. "The law is fine but the implementation part is wanting."
"We have the law," he said, "but without the budget the battle is lost."