The Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) once again raided the Gibbon Rehabilitation Project (Grep) centre in Raub, Pahang this morning.
This time, they managed to confiscate two more gibbons, which are part of the six that are subjects of an ongoing court battle between the two organisations.
This was the third day in a row that Perhilitan had conducted a raid on the centre.
On Tuesday, they managed to seize four gibbons but failed to get any yesterday as the remaining two refused to go into the trap they had set up.
Perhilitan had told Malaysiakini yesterday that they did not want to drug the gibbons, hence why they left empty-handed after 10 hours.
However, it could not be independently ascertained how the raiding party managed to get the gibbons into their custody this morning, as Grep founder Mariani Ramli claimed that the centre's personnel were blocked by authorities from getting anywhere near when Perhilitan officers were doing the confiscating.
Expressing her concern on how the gibbons were being treated during the operation, Mariani said she had asked for permission to record the process, but this was turned down.
"They managed to confiscate two more, but they did not allow us to go near where the gibbons were kept. Even though we want to record their handling (of the apes) and asked for transparency, they still don't allow us.
"Soon after that, they took the gibbons away through the bushes, and we do not know what happened to the gibbons as we could not see their condition," Mariani told Malaysiakini.
From the photo sent by Mariani to Malaysiakini, it is learned that police were also present during the raid.
Pahang Perhilitan director Rozidan Md Yasin when contacted confirmed that they have confiscated the gibbons but denied that they had to use tranquiliser to get the primates.
He said all six gibbons would be rehabilitated, after which they would be returned to their natural habitat.
"Perhilitan will do 'rewilding' of the gibbons, and they would then be released back to their natural habitat. For now, they would be placed at the National Wildlife Rescue Centre," Rozidan said in a text message this morning.
Grep filing stay application in court
It was reported that Perhilitan raids came amidst an ongoing court case between them and Mariani, who herself is a former Perhilitan ranger.
Mariani had taken her former employer to court over a claim of unfair dismissal back in 2016. She challenged both her termination and Perhilitan’s order for her to return six gibbons which had been placed under her care while employed under the department.
Mariani won the case in the High Court but the judgment was set aside by the Court of Appeal on Nov 15. They are taking their appeal to the Federal Court.
Her lawyer Jessica Binwani told Malaysiakini this morning that they are going to file a stay application at the Court of Appeal by today.
This is aimed at stopping Perhilitan's actions in regard to the gibbons, pending their appeal at the Federal Court.
"I am waiting for Mariani to arrive, and we will head to Putrajaya to file the application," she said.
Jessica also questioned the validity of the confiscation, saying that Perhilitan had again failed to show any warrant from a magistrate.
According to the lawyer, the authority needed to show a warrant acquired from a magistrate before they could confiscate wildlife under Section 24 of the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010.