KUCHING, May 24: Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) has been called to study the habitat of crocodiles after the tragedy of the reptile attack that claimed two lives within two days in Kampung Kangka and Kampung Trombol.
Political secretary in the Prime Minister’s Department (Law and Parliament) Dato Sri Syed Hamzah Syed Paie said the study should be conducted immediately in Sungai Kangka, Sungai Trombol, and the surrounding areas.
According to a press statement issued today, he said it is crucial to identify the factors that caused the incidents.
“Is it due to endangered habitats or disturbed ecology which caused these reptiles to enter the river close to human settlements?
“Or could it be because the number of reptiles has reached a large number based on information from villagers who claim that 40 to 50 crocodiles can be seen at night in the river behind their houses?” he asked.
He said this after visiting the families of the victims of the crocodile attack in Kampung Nyabut and Kampung Kangka recently.
Syed Hamzah explained that if the number of crocodiles in the area had reached a large number, the SFC would have to conduct a large-scale crocodile catching operation to prevent the same tragedy from repeating.
He said the operation could be mounted because crocodiles in Sarawak were no longer listed as protected wild animals when the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2016 allowed crocodiles in Sarawak to be hunted for commercial purposes because of negotiations led by Datuk Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar as the Minister of Natural Resources and Environment at the time.
“Based on statistics made in 2016, 13,500 crocodiles have been identified inhabiting more than 40 major rivers in Sarawak. The number is quite alarming due to the frequent conflicts between the reptiles and humans.
“Following the incident, all residents living near the river should take precautionary measures so that the same incident does not happen again,” he said. — DayakDaily