Fight against illegal wildlife trade nets eagles, slow loris, turtle eggs

The Fish Eagle and the Crested Serpent Eagle, which is a protected and non-protected species respectively, were found kept in a large cage.

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KUCHING, June 11: Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) rescued two eagles, one slow loris and seized 70 sea turtle eggs during operations against illegal wildlife trade during the recent Hari Gawai Dayak and Hari Raya Aidilfitri festive holidays.

SFC emphasised in a media release that the relentless operations conducted throughout the state had proven to be invaluable in the campaign against the illegal wildlife trade.

Over the festive holidays when most people were fixated on the festivities, SFC’s enforcement team arrested a 47-year-old Indonesian woman at Serikin Market on June 1. She had, in her possession, 70 sea turtle eggs.

“The suspect was caught red-handed displaying the eggs for sale. She was subsequently brought to the police station for further action,” SFC said.

The sea turtle eggs seized from Serikin Market.

On June 8, the enforcement team rescued two live eagles at a premises in Serikin. The Fish Eagle and Crested Serpent Eagle, which are protected and non-protected species respectively, were found caged in a large enclosure.

“No one was found at the vicinity during the raid. The eagles were sent to Matang Wildlife Centre for quarantine before release back into the wild,” SFC added.

SFCSB chief executive officer (CEO) Zolkipli Mohamad Aton warned that the punishment for anyone who hunts, kills, keeps, sells or consumes protected animals such as the eagle is one-year imprisonment and a fine of RM10,000.

“In the case of sea turtles, which are totally protected wildlife in Sarawak, the maximum fine is RM50,000 and five years’ jail,” he cautioned.

“This is our continuous and long-term commitment to addressing illegal wildlife trade and crime to safeguard the flora and fauna in Sarawak.”

These efforts, he pointed out, include instilling awareness and realisation in the minds of the public at large that wildlife was best left undisturbed in the wild as part of forest communities and not as pets.

“There are some encouraging and positive initiatives of late. Between the two successful operations, a member of the public surrendered a slow loris (ungkang) to SFC on June 2,” he commented.

Members of the public with information on wildlife trade are encouraged to report via SFC’s hotlines in Kuching (019-8859996, 016-8565564), Sibu (019-8190140, 019-8894474), Bintulu (019-8223449, 019-8332737), or Miri (019-8224566, 019-8290994). — DayakDaily