Balance legislation on wildlife protection & people’s welfare is a must

Dr James Jemut Masing

KUCHING: There must be a balance between wildlife conservation and the people’s welfare in any amendment to the Wildlife Protection Ordinance1998, said Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Datuk Amar Dr James Jemut Masing.

“The protection of wildlife must include the preservation of human life and its economic standard. Thus, a delicate balance between whom to protect lies with Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC).

“Intelligent and clear pursuance of the objectives are crucial from the very beginning. Therefore, there must be no hidden agenda in pursuing these noble goals by any relevant agencies,” he said today.

On Tuesday, Masing who is Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president and PRS vice president Datuk Liwan Lagang called for the ordinance to be amended as it caused natives to be deprived of extra income after sale of wild boar was barred in the open market.

This came after Masing lamented that the Dayaks in Kapit were affected due to being unable to sell wild boar meat including kasam babi (preserved wild boar meat) to supplement their income amid the current economic downturn.

SFC in a statement Tuesday defended its stance on the trading of wildlife meat, adding that it was done to ensure the natives would have sustainable supply of the protein source.

Meanwhile, the deputy chief minister said protection of wildlife must include fish especially Empurau and Semah.

“These two species must be included in the list of protected species. Once they are in the list, then the sale of wild Empurau and Semah will be prohibited, but the sale of domesticated (aquaculture breeding) is permitted,” he said.

He also called for a strict method of fishing to preserve the fish, adding that no fish should be permitted to be sold if it was caught using non-traditional methods.

“SFC officers must be taught how to differentiate between fish caught by traditional and non-traditional means.

“These skills must be endowed with our SFC officers, if they are indeed serious in helping our people to have sustainable protein and preserve our wildlife,” he said.