Sarawak Forestry Corp intensifying patrols to stop illegal wildlife trade

Sea turtle eggs seized from an Indonesian trader, who had pleaded guilty and was sentenced to one month's imprisonment.

KUCHING, May 28: Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC)’s weekly patrolling of markets across the state to curb wildlife trade has resulted in the seizure of rare protected animals on several occasions.

Among the protected animals and items seized are slow loris in Bintulu, sea turtle eggs in Serikin as well as bat and squirrel meat in Sri Aman.

Sarawak Forestry Corporation Sdn Bhd (SFC) chief executive officer (CEO) Zolkipli Mohamad Aton explained in a press release today that the weekly patrols were effective in reducing wildlife meat trading, but such illegal activities tended to gain momentum during festive seasons.

“Therefore, our staff from the regional offices, site offices (OSCC) and Swift Wildlife Action Team (SWAT) team have intensified patrols at various markets throughout the state in recent weeks in anticipation of the surge in such activities,” he said.

During an operation on May 18, a 59-year-old Indonesian woman was arrested at a parking lot near Pasar Serikin with turtle eggs in her possession.

She was later charged and pleaded guilty to the illegal possession of the eggs and was sentenced to one month behind bars.

In another separate case in Bintulu, a slow loris was found kept illegally. Fearful of the law, the owner surrendered the protected species to SFC officers.

On May 19, an operation at Pasar Tamu Sri Aman resulted in the seizure of wildlife meats of bats and squirrels, but no one was apprehended.

A SFC officer lays out packages of wildlife meat that had been confiscated during an operation to curb wildlife trade in Sarawak.

Under the Sarawak Wildlife Protection Ordinance (1998), any person who hunts, kills, captures, sells or is in possession of any totally protected animal (and protected animal) shall be guilty of an offence.

The penalty for totally protected animals is five years’ jail and a fine up to RM50,000, while for protected animals, the offender is liable to two years’ jail and RM25,000 fine.

Zolkipli thanked the various enforcement agencies, including the police, Forest Department Sarawak (FDS), local councils and other related agencies for their assistance. He also thanked the public and concerned individuals for the tip-offs that proved invaluable.

“New signages will be strategically installed at the markets after the festive season, including dissemination of posters to the local community relating to protection of wildlife,” he added.

Members of the public who have information on wildlife trade are urged to report to SFC hotlines in Kuching (019-8859996, 016-8565564), Sibu (019-8190140, 019-8894474), Bintulu (019-8223449, 019-8332737), and Miri (019-8224566, 019-8290994). — DayakDaily