Thumbs up to crocodile watching but safety must come first

Photo: Ghazali Bujang

KOTA SAMARAHAN: Tourists are welcomed to watch crocodiles in their natural habitats, said Muara Tuang assemblyman Datuk Idris Buang.

“Like at Jong Crocodile Farm in Kuching or crocodile sanctuaries in Darwin, Australia, they can come to feed the crocodiles, take pictures and so on.

“But their safety must be a priority,” he said when met by the media at D-Virtual Park here on Monday (Mar 29).

Idris, who is also the patron of Samarahan Crocodile Hunter (SCH), was commenting on the plan by the Integrated Regional Samarahan Development Agency (IRSDA) to capitalise on the huge crocodile population in Sungai Meranek by encouraging tourists to view them.

He said efforts to promote crocodile watching at Sungai Meramec here depended on the state and federal governments. 

Idris pointed out despite being a threat to fishermen in the Muara Tuang area, crocodiles could actually bring benefits to the people there.

“So, we (at SCH) are trying to address the issue by catching ferocious crocodiles to ensure the safety of the fishermen here.

“We are also thinking of producing something from crocodiles and we are trying to urge the state government to set up a crocodile zone to breed crocodiles commercially or semi-commercially,” he explained.

Through the move, Idris said the villagers could venture into the field of commercial crocodile farming; namely the production of crocodile skins and meat like in Australia, the Philippines and other countries.

“We know these are being done in Beaufort, Sabah as well as Australia.

“Currently, the state government is conducting a study with the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) on this matter and the locals will be providing feedback,” he said.

Previously, Tourism, Arts and Culture Minister Datuk Seri Nancy Shukri said IRSDA had identified another potential tourism product in Sungai Meranek here — that is developing the area into a crocodile watching spot.

“The interesting part is that SFC has been doing it. It has boats taking people to view crocodiles along Samariang to the Pulau Salak area,” she added.