AN Enforcement and Protection Team (PPP) under the Sarawak Forestry Cooperation (SFC) will continue to work with other enforcement agencies to increase its effectiveness.
Deputy Premier and Second Minister for Natural Resources and Urban Development Datuk Amar Awang Tengah Ali Hasan said enforcement activities by PPP continued during the COVID-19 pandemic although movement was restricted.
“From 2020 to May 2022, a total of 222 cases were investigated, of which 24 cases were taken to court and 72 cases were compounded a total of RM246,450. The remaining 126 cases are still under investigation,” he said in his ministerial winding-up speech today.
Awang Tengah said the Sarawak government through the SFC had always focused on biodiversity and environmental conservation.
“At Wildlife Centres such as in Semenggoh (SWC) and Matang (MWC), the care and safety of orangutans and their keepers are very much emphasised as orangutans have 97 per cent DNA similarity to humans.
“To ensure the optimal level of the health of orangutans and their caregivers, SFC collaborates with UNIMAS in conducting regular COVID-19 detection tests to ensure the safety, welfare, and health of orangutans at the Wildlife Centre,” he said.
Awang Tengah also said it was interesting to find out that the orangutans at the SWCs had the opportunity to enjoy stress-free leisure time when no visitors were allowed during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This opportunity was fully utilised by the orangutans and it was not a surprise when there were three baby orangutans this year,” he said.
He stressed that the Sarawak government would continue its efforts to manage the sustainability of the wild crocodile population through the Sarawak Crocodile Management Plan Phase One (2016-2020) based on three main objectives, namely continuing wild crocodile conservation efforts, strengthening harmony between humans and crocodiles to ensure the safety of local people, and performing a detailed study on the benefits of sustainable crocodiles.
The actions to be taken include collaboration with crocodile farm operators and increasing the number of crocodile sanctuaries throughout Sarawak for conservation and eco-tourism purposes.
“Other actions are increasing the number of crocodile removal zones to ensure the safety of residents and issuing harvesting and hunting permits for harvesting and culling purposes,” he added.
He also said the crocodile management would be further strengthened with the assistance and cooperation of crocodile experts, especially from Australia, South Africa, and the United States as well as the crocodile specialist group from the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).