Time for another croc head count following attacks

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KUCHING: A new study on the habitat of crocodiles should be conducted by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) following recent attacks that claimed two lives within two days in Kampung Kangka and Kampung Trombol.

Political Secretary in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament) Datuk Seri Syed Hamzah Syed Paie said the study should be conducted immediately in Sungai Kangka, Sungai Trombol and the surrounding areas.

He believes it is critical to pinpoint the factors that contributed to the recent crocodile attacks.

“Is it because of endangered habitats or disturbed ecology that these reptiles are entering human-populated river areas?

“Or could it be because the number of reptiles has increased significantly,” he asked, citing information from villagers who claim to have seen 40 to 50 crocodiles at night in the river behind their homes.

He said this after visiting the families of the victims of the crocodile attacks in Kampung Nyabut and Kampung Kangka.

If the number of crocodiles in the area had indeed reached a very large number, then the SFC would have to conduct a large-scale crocodile catching operation to prevent the tragedy from happening again, he said.

He said the operation could be done because crocodiles in Sarawak were no longer listed as protected wild animals after the International Convention on Trade in Endangered Flora and Fauna (CITES) in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016 allowed crocodiles in Sarawak to be hunted for commercial purposes as a result of negotiations led by Datuk Sri Haji Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar as the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment at the time.

“According to 2016 statistics, 13,500 crocodiles were identified as inhabiting more than 40 major rivers in Sarawak, a number that is quite alarming due to frequent conflicts between reptiles and humans,” he added.

In the meantime he advised all residents living near the river to take precautionary measures to avoid tragedies.

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