NGO opposes wildlife trade

KUCHING: Sarawak Eco-Warriors (SEW) strongly opposes the trade of wildlife products such as wild boar meat.

It instead asks local leaders to produce new solutions for native communities to generate sustainable income.

This is in response to a recent statement by Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing urging the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) to give leeway to Dayaks in Kapit to sell wild boar meat to add to their income, particularly during the Covid-19 pandemic and the resulting economic slowdown.

SEW in a statement, instead urged SFC to continue enforcement operations.

“In accordance with the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998, it is an offence to sell or buy any wildlife or wildlife products that have been hunted anywhere in Sarawak.

“The ordinance was enacted for the purpose of curbing the issues linked with exploitation and extinction of native and endemic species in Sarawak,” it said.

It noted that although the sale of wild meat was prohibited, natives residing within a native customary land were permitted to hunt and consume wild boars.

“Income generation from exploitation of wildlife is not only environmentally unsustainable but is also merely a short-term financial solution,” it said.

The NGO called on local leaders to look progressively to produce new modules and solutions for native communities to generate sustainable and legal income.

“We understand the need to increase the common standard of living especially in terms of financial security. However, we need to work progressively to open new markets rather than rely on traditional means.

“We should also reflect back and remember that the Covid-19 global pandemic occurred because of the consumption of wild meat,” said Mark Liao, advisor to SEW.

Meanwhile, SEW secretary Ashley Kho said that the Covid-19 crisis highlighted the ongoing risk of consuming wildlife products and if these markets persisted, the public would continue to face potentially more lethal viruses.

“Instead of subjecting ourselves to these risks, we should instead help those affected to look for more sustainable means of income,” added Kho.

For more information, visit “Sarawak Eco-Warriors” on Facebook and Instagram or contact SEW at sarawakecowarrior@gmail.com.