Masing: Ban use of helmeted hornbill feathers, use silk feathers instead

Tan Sri Dr James Masing

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KUCHING, Nov 23: Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri Dr James Masing has called for a ban on the use of feathers of helmeted hornbills in cultural dances to prevent more poaching of the endangered species.

He believed that just by placing the helmeted hornbill under totally protected species is not effective enough to give protection to the bird, in which the casque is of high demand.

“To place helmeted hornbills under totally protected species is not good enough. The government must ban the use of its feathers in cultural dances.

“By allowing its feathers to be used in cultural occasions, the government in fact condone the killing of these most magnificent birds,” said Masing in a statement today.

He believed that hornbill feathers made from silk should be used to replace feathers of helmeted hornbills.

“While I was in the Ministry of Tourism, I suggested for the government to use silk to emulate the feathers of hornbills.

“Such technology is available now. By using silk to emulate bird feathers, we are saving our wildlife. We walk the talk. ‘Jangan cakap tak serupa bikin’ (Don’t say something but practice otherwise).”

Apart from advocating against of the use of feathers of the helmeted hornbills, Masing believed that some cultural activities not in line with Sarawak’s wildlife protection policies should also be banned.

“We should not only pass laws to safeguard our protected species, but we must discourage the use of cultural activities that are not in line with our objectives in protecting our wildlife,” he said.

According to New Sarawak Tribune, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) general manager Oswald Braken Tisen has expressed concerns over the dire situation of helmeted hornbills, which are illegally poached for their valuable ivory.

It wa reported that the red-hued keratin found on the casque also fetched a high price on global black market and is in demand.

Braken told the media at the closing of SFC Sdn Bhd Enforcement Officers Training at the Police Training Centre at Jalan Borneo Heights yesterday that initially, SFC thought there was no poaching of the bird in the state until a recent raid in Kapit, where numerous hornbill heads were found.

He also revealed that Peninsular Malaysia has been used as a transit point for illegal wildlife trafficking. — DayakDaily