By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Jan 4: Could there be still rhinoceros roaming free in our wild?
The answer is yes.
According to the Controller of Wild Life Sarawak Zolkipli Mohamad Aton, the last records of rhinoceros sighting in Sarawak was in 1980 in Ulu Baram.
He stressed that even though rhinoceros might have become extinct in Sarawak, it is still being listed as among the totally protected wildlife species in the State.
“The last sighting of rhino in Sarawak was in the early 1980s in Ulu Baram, which led to the establishment of the Pulong Tau National Park.
“Rhino may still occur in Borneo, as it is not easy to confirm that it has gone extinct or otherwise. So, we will continue to maintain it as Totally Protected Wildlife. Who knows one day we may find it in Pulong Tau National Park,” Zolkipli told Dayak Daily here today.
On crocodiles, Zolkipli said, Sarawak has become a role model in terms of crocodile management in the wild.
“We have in place the State’s Crocodile Management Plan which we have come up with in 2016 that has been recognised by the international communities.
“That’s why we have been able to downgrade the species from CITES I (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora) to CITES II to allow for sustainable harvesting.
“This year the State’s Crocodile Management Plan will be reviewed and updated to reflect the current crocodile population,” he stressed.
Zolkipli asserted that even though Sarawak has allowed systematic harvesting, those given the licence were not allowed to hunt and shoot the crocodiles in the wild indiscriminately.
“Each licencee is only allow to hunt and cull only in specific area and for specific size. We have to do this in order to prevent our crocodiles from extinction which has almost happened in 1985 due to over harvesting,” he said.
On a related issue, Zolkipli hoped that the Sarawak Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998 could be amended to ensure that it is in line with the national policies regarding wildlife, especially in terms of their management and fines. — DayakDaily