Malaysian wildlife officials save wok-bound monitor lizards

April 7th, 2008 - 1:05 pm ICT by admin  

Kuala Lumpur, April 7 (DPA) Malaysian wildlife officers seized 222 endangered clouded monitor lizards believed to be bound for cooking pots at restaurants in neighbouring countries, a news report said Monday. Six officers from the wildlife department in the central state of Pahang were conducting random checks at an oil palm estate late Saturday when they discovered the lizards, said state wildlife director Saharudin Anan.

He said the lizards were bought from locals as well as Indonesian workers who would trap them at the plantation.

“The lizards are usually high in demand. They are considered a delicacy and also believed to heal several illnesses,” Saharudin was quoted as saying to the New Straits Times daily.

The clouded monitor lizard is an endangered lizard along with the Harlequin and Dumeril’s monitor lizard, he said.

No arrests were made in the raid, as those responsible for capturing the lizards were believed to have made their escape.

However, Saharudin said enforcement officers would increase patrols at the area in order to weed out those responsible.

Two years ago, the state’s wildlife officers seized 5,400 clouded monitor lizards bound for Hong Kong, he said.

Those caught for smuggling endangered species of animals face a fine of up to 5,000 ringgit ($1470) and three years in prison.

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