Let’s keep animals safe in their natural habitats
“The Sumatran rhino and wild cattle or seladang have been hunted to extinction in Sarawak and species like the clouded leopard, sun bear, civet, helmeted hornbill and pangolin may face a similar fate if they are hunted and traded for meat and wildlife parts,” said WWF-Malaysia Sarawak Programme Leader, Dr Jason Hon.
Dr Hon said while it is understandable for indigenous people residing in the rural areas to hunt, it needs to be done by taking into consideration which animals are protected under the Sarawak Wild Life Ordinance 1998.
“We acknowledge that forest provides protein to local communities. What is important is not to hunt protected species and to practice sustainable consumption. Do not take more than what is needed,” explained Dr Hon. “Some species have already become rare, which is why the government needs to protect them by putting them on the protected list.”
He added that when people take more than what they need, there is always an intention to sell the leftovers. This is when the practice becomes wrong as it will create a supply and demand for wildlife meat and parts. Trading of wildlife meat and parts is illegal in Sarawak.
As such, Dr Hon urged the public, especially those celebrating the coming Harvest Festival such as Gawai or even Pesta Kaamatan in Sabah, to help spread the conservation message to keep animals safe in their natural habitats. “Let’s not stop there, but also communicate the same message to protect wild animals during all other festive celebrations,” he said.
It would be a pity if we continue to lose biodiversity, particularly wildlife, and only be able to learn and see them on textbooks in the future, he pointed out.
“Let us show by example because conservation of our rich biodiversity starts with all of us. This small step will go a long way in ensuring the survival of species for posterity.”
“Any celebration can be memorable and merry even without the consumption of wild meat. Animals are already facing the threats of becoming extinct because of development and encroachment into their natural habitats,” he said.
Dr Hon said people around the globe just celebrated International Day of Biodiversity on May 22. Next, June 5 and June 8, are World Environment Day and World Ocean Day respectively.
He said these dedicated green days are significant because they aim at highlighting the need for everyone to help conserve the environment upon which we depend daily.
“Don’t wait until all animals are near extinction to start conserving them. Take a lesson from our last three rhinos in Sabah. Keeping them alive is already a challenge, what more in trying to breed them,” he added.
In Sarawak, there are 279 species of plants and 45 species of animals listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species.
There are also several laws in conserving our natural resources. The revised 2016-2025 National Policy on Biological Diversity states that “Malaysia is committed to conserve its biological diversity, promote sustainable use and ensure fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilization of biological resources”.
Sarawak alone has various legislations on the conservation of biological diversity, such as National Parks and Nature Reserves Ordinance 1998, Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998, Forest Ordinance 2015, Natural Resources and Environment (Amendment) Ordinance 1993, Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (Amendment) Ordinance 2014, Public Parks and Greens Ordinance 1993, and Water Ordinance 1994 for protection of water catchments.
Dr Hon noted that despite all these laws, wildlife often make the headlines for the wrong reasons such as wildlife trafficking, illegal trading and hunting.
Based on The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (TRAFFIC) report in 2015, these illegal hunters have become sophisticated with their method of selling. It has been reported that they have begun using social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp to promote their ‘products’. The public can do their part by not disseminating such postings.
Dr Hon urged the public to contact the authorities if they encounter or know of anyone selling wildlife meat and parts.
The public can call Forest Department Sarawak hotline at 1800-88-7777 or Sarawak Forestry Department (SFC) hotline at 019-8859996 (Kuching), 019-8290994 (Miri), 019-8266096 (Bintulu) and 019-8290992 (Sibu) to report of suspicious activities concerning wildlife trade.
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For more information, please contact:
Amanda Nayra Michael Jengging
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