Illegal wildlife trade: Public help welcome

KUCHING: The public plays an important role in assisting the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) to gather information to further establish effective wildlife
enforcement in the state.

Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Assistant Minister Datuk Len Talif Salleh noted that the public has become a great help to SFC through tip-offs that have led to successful rescue operations. However, this alone was not enough to combat illegal wildlife trade, thus he reiterated the importance of education about the matter.

“Basically, our locals need to be educated about wildlife such as what (wildlife) is protected, totally protected, and what are the things needed for them to trade. That is very important.

“We cannot just keep on arresting locals without them knowing the law because there is no excuse for not knowing the law…but then again, you have to educate the public, to know the law in the process of going into enforcement.”

Len (second right) points to protected wildlife species in Sarawak.

He said this when officiating at a workshop on illegal wildlife trade at Imperial Hotel here, yesterday.

Describing the Sarawak-Kalimantan border as “can be porous”, Len added that security should be enhanced – officers needed to be more vigilant to ensure that illegal wildlife trade is crippled.

On poachers, Len mentioned that most were locals, however, he stressed that “without buyers, there would be no trade”.

“There has to be some international connection that enables locals to participate in this illegal trade. Thank God, the state is on an island and we managed to contain this, so the major thing we should be worried about is our border security.

“Wildlife trade normally ends up all over the world, especially in advanced countries such as China, Hong Kong, Europe and United States,” he said.

About 40 people participated in the workshop organised by SFC, involving all relevant government enforcement agencies.

The three-day workshop aims to put focus on the importance of biodiversity conservation and protection in Sarawak, which includes existing laws and regulations such as Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998, Veterinary Public Health Ordinance 1999, Standard Operation Procedures (SOP) to provide information sharing, enforcement activities to curb illegal wildlife trade and enhancement of monitoring at entry or exit points in Sarawak.