KUCHING, August 9: The graphic display of whole bodied estuarine crocodile being barbequed and sold publicly at this year’s Kuching Food Festival is downright “distasteful” and should be stopped.
WWF-Malaysia and the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) said such an action was belittling conservation and awareness efforts. It is also creating a skewed public perception towards the reptile, which is a protected species under the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.
“The operator may have a licence to sell crocodile meat but such a graphic display of a full length crocodile carcass at the annual popular public event does not give wildlife and nature the proper respect they deserve,” said Dr Henry Chan, the director of WWF-Malaysia Conservation, in a statement.
“We feel it is a distasteful graphic display of the species that has so much cultural significance to Sarawak, especially considering that the crocodile is also made the state’s football team mascot,” he added.
To some ethnic groups in Sarawak, like the Iban and Bidayuh, it is a taboo to eat crocodiles, he pointed out.
Crocodiles play important roles in maintaining the rivers ecosystems, said Rose Au, chairperson of MNS Kuching.
“They clean up rivers as they feed on the weak, injured, and dead animals. This places a balance to the animal population in the wild.”
Over time, the crocodile population will self-regulate before reaching equilibrium. Without crocodiles, or by disturbing or displacing them, the river systems may break down and eventually affect humans negatively, she cautioned.
“Kuching Festival can still be a great event to promote the wonderful delicacies from Sarawak. We do not need such an apathetic display of our wildlife to boost sales,” she opined.
Currently, the state is working on a comprehensive long-term conservation plan for crocodiles; hence, businesses and the public should not go on a rampage in harvesting and eating crocodiles for now.
“We hope that the public will not adopt the perception that crocodiles are no longer a threatened and protected species. It is a wrong perception that anyone can openly hunt crocodiles and sell them.
“A licence and approval from the authority is still needed to do so and only if the wild crocodile poses a threat to the safety of humans,” she said. — DayakDaily