Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Trade in wildlife meat still rampant in Sarawak

Wednesday March 24, 2010 The Star, Malaysia

Trade in wildlife meat still rampant in Sarawak

KUCHING: Some rural towns in Sarawak are hotspots for the wildlife meat trade.
The Star observed that the sale of wildlife meat has been thriving in Julau in Sarikei Division, Kanowit in Sibu Division and Kapit.

Protected species under the Sarawak Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998 such as pangolins, civets and pythons are sold openly by the roadsides, and at grocery shops and wet markets.
Some animals are brutally killed before being brought to the market.

According to a trader in Julau, his fresh wildlife meat supply came from longhouse natives.
Another trader who was selling civets said he had shot the animals himself.

While the authorities are trying their best to end the trade in wildlife meat, it is obvious that more needs to be done, particularly in educating the people.

Traffic South-East Asia’s senior programme officer Noorainie Awang Anak urged the Sarawak Forestry Corporation to hold more awareness campaigns for villagers on the law regulating wildlife trade and protection.

“Maybe the message on the ban on wildlife trade in Sarawak did not reach the village level and that is why you still have locals hunting and selling wildlife meat openly,” she said.

Noorainie also said enforcement had to be strengthened to curb the wildlife trade.
Malaysian Nature Society Kuching branch chairman Rebecca D’Cruz said as Sarawak strived to be developed, its people should stop consuming wildlife meat.

“The people should realise by now that there is no scientific proof that eating wildlife meat would enhance one’s health,” she said.

D’Cruz stressed that people should help protect and conserve the animals for posterity and the development of tourism.

D’Cruz also noted that the wildlife trade exposed humans to disease carried by animals.
Under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance, it is illegal to sell or buy any wildlife or wildlife products that had been hunted from the wild.

Those found guilty can be fined between RM10,000 and RM50,000.
State Forest Director and Wildlife Controller Datuk Len Talif Salleh, who last week said the trade in wildlife meat in Sarawak was not rampant, could not be reached for comment yesterday.

He also said the authorities realised it was still happening in some rural areas but the department was more concerned with poaching and the commercial trade of such meat.