KUCHING, Sept 30: Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) will be taking over the duties of wildlife controller from Sarawak Forest Department (SFD) to curb the issuance of new permits for keeping protected animals in captivity.
Assistant Minister of Urban Planning, Land Administration and Environment Datu Len Talif Salleh said this was in view of the recent rescue by SFC of a protected sun bear which was locked up in a cage for some 20 years near Kampung Rasau, Serian recently.
Although the owner had a valid permit to keep the sun bear, he was found to have violated certain terms and conditions, including confining the bear in a small cage.
“We have asked SFD to stop issuing new permits as well. (It’s) good that we received a lot of public tip-offs.
“Now we are in the process of splitting SFD’s responsibilities with SFC. SFD now holds the responsibilities for the controller of wildlife as well as Director of Forests. Later on, SFD will be just have the Director of Forests while SFC will take over (the duties) as controller of wildlife,” he told reporters this morning.
Len noted that existing permit holders could renew their yearly permits to keep wildlife in captivity, but more stringent conditions are needed, and SFC would review existing permit holders.
“We try to stop issuing (new) licence or permit to any individuals who keep wildlife. Sometimes the renewal (of permits) didn’t go to the director, but to the ministers for that matter.
“In fact we will consider stopping the issuance of new permits,” he said.
Len pointed out that SFD has a standard operating procedure (SOP) to follow when renewing permits, where the health and condition of the animals are to be checked thoroughly.
“We used to have vets in the department,” he said.
Permit holders who fulfilled the conditions of the permit, particularly those concerning the well-being of the animals, would be allowed to renew them said Len, citing operators of zoos or wildlife tourist attraction premises as examples. — DayakDaily