|Anson Wong's briefcase crawling with snakes|
A notorious wildlife smuggler named Anson Wong has recently pleaded guilty on charges of illegally smuggling exotic reptiles from the Malaysian island of Penang to Jakarta. Wong, nicknamed the "Lizard King", was arrested on the 26th of August at the Kuala Lumpur airport when his suitcase burst open on the conveyor belt exposing the victims. They included 95 boa constrictors, two rhinoceros vipers, and one matamata turtle. The Lizard King has had a brush with the law before. He was once convicted for wildlife smuggling in 2001 in the U.S and sentenced to 71 months, according to the Department of Justice. However, he has recently been sentenced for six months in prison and fined 190,000 ringgit (an equivalent of $61,000). This led to several criticisms by several Malaysian wildlife groups. A wildlife trade monitoring organization known as Traffic Southeast Asia stated that the sentencing was disappointing, and showed that wildlife smugglers have little to fear from the law. According to the regional director of TRAFFIC, William Schaedla, the organization hopes that the Ministry of Natural Resources and the Environment will appeal for a stiffer penalty. Another conservation group known as WWF-Malaysia called the nations government to revoke Wong's license in the wildlife trade.
I'm very much in support of Malaysia's wildlife groups and their opinions towards Wong's sentencing. The illegal smuggling of wildlife is a major environmental catastrophe that has been plaguing the regions of Southeast Asia for decades, and yet most of the perpetrators involved are never given tough penalties. Wong's case is a classic example of this. These criminals should be convicted in a same manner as regular felons like murderers and robbers. Instead of months, they should be sentenced to some number of years behind bars depending on how serious their activities turn out to be to the authorities.