KUCHING: The Wor ld Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWFMalaysia) and Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Kuching Branch call for a careful consideration, and a stop on distasteful graphic display of whole bodied estuarine crocodile being barbequed and sold publicly at this year’s Kuching Food Festival.
In a press statement issued here yesterday, WWF-Malaysia said that the action was giving a skewed public perception towards the reptile which is a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998, and belittling the conservation and awareness efforts.
The Conservation Director of WWF-Malaysia, Dr Henry Chan said, “The operator may have a license issued by the authority to sell crocodile meat but such graphic display of a full length crocodile carcass at the annual popular public event does not give wildlife and nature the proper respect they deserve.
“We feel it is a distasteful graphic display of the species that has so much cultural significance to Sarawak. The crocodile was once made as the state’s football team mascot.” He pointed out that to some ethnic groups in Sarawak like the Iban and Bidayuh, it was a taboo to eat crocodiles and the crocodiles also play important roles in maintaining the rivers’ ecosystems. The Chai rper son of MNS Kuching Branch, Rose Au said, “They clean up rivers as they feed on the weak, injured, and dead animals. This places a balance of to the animal population in the wild.
Over time, the crocodile population will self-regulate and reach an equilibrium. Without them or by disturbing or displacing them, our river systems may break down and eventually affect humans negatively. “The Kuching Festival can still be a great event to promote the wonderful delicacies from Sarawak.
We do not need such an apathetic display of our wildlife to boost sales.” Currently, the state is working on a comprehensive long-term conservation plan for crocodiles and therefore, businesses and the public should not go on a rampage in harvesting and eating crocodiles for now.
“We hope that the public will not adopt the perception that crocodiles are no longer a threatened and protected species. It is a wrong perception that anyone can openly hunt crocodiles and sell them. A licence and approval from the authority is still needed to do so and only if the wild crocodile poses a threat to the safety of humans,” added Rose.