By Peter Sibon
KUCHING, Nov 24: Two PRS leaders are united in calling for the current Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998, to be amended to allow natives to sell wildlife meat, especially wild boar, to supplement their income.
Parti Rakyat Sarawak (PRS) president Tan Sri Dr James Jemut Masing said it is high time for the state government to amend the said ordinance as the natives have been deprived of extra income from the sale of wild boar meat in the open market.
“Yes, we have voiced out our concerns for the natives who have been barred from selling wildlife especially wild boar meat in the open market all this while,” Masing told DayakDaily here today.
He stressed that presently, there has been no definite data from Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) showing hunting by native communities have resulted in a drastic decline in the wild boar population.
“Being a native myself, I can assure SFC that wild game including wild boar is a major source of protein intake and another source of income for the native communities, especially during the economic slowdown due to Covid-19.
“In times of economic crisis, whom do we save, wild boars or humans?” he asked.
The Baleh lawmaker also highlighted the problems posed by illegal hunting by non-natives.
“I believe non-native communities are very much involved. With better guns at their disposal, the non-native hunters have caused the decline in the state wild life.
“So, I suggest, therefore, for SFC officers to focus their time to ‘hunt’ these non-native hunters who are roaming in our jungles, instead of spending their time around ‘pasar tamu’, ambushing native communities by the road side.
“I still remember a few years ago, 20 to 50 carcasses of wild boars were shipped from the jungle in Ulu Baleh to Sibu town. Please go after these non-Dayak hunters who are still roaming our jungles,” he said.
Masing asserted that if the hunting of wild boars was only confined to the native communities, the decline of the wild boar population will not result in the complete depletion of its numbers within a few years as assumed by SFC studies.
“Under Section 37 (1) (a) & (b) says, a native may have 5kg of wild meat within his possession for his own consumption as permitted. This was practised years ago. I’m curious, why does SFC starts enforcing the Wild Life Ordinance now? So I’m quite suspicious of SFC’s agenda,” he stressed.
PRS vice-president Datuk Liwan Lagang agreed with Masing’s suggestion for the ordinance to be amended.
“Hunting of wild boars has been our way of life. So it is not the cause of its decline in population. Instead, the reason for its drastic decline is illegal hunting and illegal logging,” he said.
Liwan, who is the Belaga assemblyman, pointed out that the ordinance needs to be amended so that there is more bite for the authorities to go after the real culprits than hunters who just want to earn extra income to feed their families.
“The current ordinance is too one-sided and does not do much good for the rural natives,” he opined.
Both Masing and Liwan made these remarks in response to SFC’s statement today revealing the reason behind the prevention of the sale of wild boar meat is to ensure that the natives would have a sustainable supply.
“This is to ensure that rural communities will continue to have the food that they need. Studies show that wildlife trade in town is the single cause of the decline of wildlife and deprived the rural communities of their source of protein,” SFC highlighted in the statement.
It pointed out that under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998, the authorities do not permit any sale of wildlife including non-protected species (including wild boar meat) taken from the wild.
“It’s an offence punishable under the ordinances to sell or to buy wild animal meats. And SFC wishes to clarify that everyone is treated the same under the law,” it aded.
However, SFC asserted that natives residing in rural areas are permitted to hunt for their own self-consumption but not for sale or trade.
The statement from SFC came in response to DayakDaily’s report yesterday where Masing expressed hope that SFC would give the Dayaks in Kapit leeway to sell wild boar meat to supplement their income especially during the current economic downturn caused by the Covid-19 pandemic.
He claimed that the explanations presented by Dayak elected representatives during a meeting with SFC officers on the matter at the beginning of the year had fallen on deaf ears.
“The Dayaks of Kapit are crying foul when SFC officers confiscated their wild boar meat for sale including their ‘kasam babi’ (preserved wild boar meat). The old ladies and men whose livelihood depend on these sales came crying, complaining to me,” Masing was quoted saying.
He pointed out that even though wild boars are categorised as endangered species in Sarawak, they are breeding so fast, they have become pests.
“After all, wild boars are pests to rural farmers and they breed prolifically like rabbits. What’s wrong killing those pests to earn extra income for rural people?” asked Masing.
As such Masing called upon SFC to consider the rural people’s effort to earn extra income especially in light of the economic slowdown triggered by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998, it is an offence to sell or buy any wildlife or wildlife products that have been hunted from the wild anywhere in Sarawak. The penalty for selling wildlife products or wild meat without a licence is RM5,000, while the penalty for buying wildlife trophies or wild meat is RM2,000. — DayakDaily