During our time in Malaysia, OpenGov caught up with Dato’ Zainal Abidin Bin Kasim, Deputy Director (Operations), Royal Malaysian Police to discuss his drive to conserve Malaysian natural resources.
Dato’ Zainal Abidin Bin Kasim gave us a warm welcome and was eager to share his thoughts and experiences surrounding the topic of conservation.
Cross-Agency Conservation Initiative
When we walked into his office, Dato’ Zainal Abidin Bin Kasim had told us how he has been working to put a cross-agency leadership group together, to address conservation concerns. Poaching has become an increasingly great concern to Malaysian authorities, due to the amount
Forestry accounted for 62 percent of the land area across Malaysia in 2011, according to the World Bank. This land is vital to the country’s natural resources, offering habitat to the country’s biodiverse ecosystem.
In the state of Sabah, local conservationists are warning that the poaching issue could have adverse impacts on the region’s ecology and ecotourism sectors. From this, you may understand why the topic of poaching is of utmost importance to Dato’ Zainal Abidin Bin Kasim.
This is why he is working with the Ministry of Natural Resources, the Forestry Department, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, and other government agencies to come together and fight the growing poaching issue.
“We need to work as a united front because although poaching is not seen as ‘criminal activity’ to some, it is crucial to address,” stated Dato’ Zainal Abidin Bin Kasim, “Sometimes these poachers are coming from other countries and it can be easy for them to poach and escape criminal prosecution.”
Dato’ Zainal Abidin Bin Kasim proposes the use of defence forces to combat these criminal efforts. “If we do not start this initiative, it will only take even longer to address this imminent threat to our natural resources,” he said.
Along the Malaysia-Thailand border, the group TRAFFIC has created posters referencing the illegal hunting and trade offences under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 and International Trade in Endangered Species Act 2008. These posters have been designed with the support of the Royal Malaysian Police who are united with public and non-profit organisations combating the poaching epidemic.
Recently, just this past week, Terengganu became the first state in Malaysia to issue a fatwa against wildlife poaching in the area. This signifies that illegal hunting practice is now ‘haram’, or forbidden.
Camera Traps, Data Sharing, and GIS come to the rescue!
Several technologies have been used in the past year to decrease the level of poaching in Malaysia. These technologies include camera trapping, data sharing, geospatial intelligence, and SMS reporting.
Camera traps have been put in place to capture these poachers. These camera traps are equipped with motion sensors acting as triggers. These were initially deployed through a wide-scale camera trapping project by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks.
Now, they are helping catch poachers targeting prized wildlife and forest resources from Malaysia. Photos are sent to officers’ phones every few minutes when there is a poaching threat located.
Through the National Blue Ocean Strategy, the Department can also share information with other enforcement agencies such as the Armed Forces, Forestry Department, and State Park Cooperation.
The police can capitalise on Geospatial Technology to capture poachers. This would allow for satellite imagery data to be collected at a wide-scale. Dato’ Zainal Abidin Bin Kasim is supporting initiatives to develop GIS that will catch criminals at early stages.
Beyond these initiatives, civilians are encouraged to alert the authorities about any suspicious behavior via SMS. Then, through the Royal Malaysian Police advanced deployment system, the nearest police station will receive the message and attend to the situation.
Dato’ Zainal Abidin Bin Kasim praises technology for its ability to increase coverage of criminal activity and capacity of the police force in approaching conservation efforts. “If you must move forward in the world, you must integrate technology,” said Dato’ Zainal Abidin Bin Kasim, “Recruiting more manpower will not be enough, we will still need technology.”