Take what is needed, conserve, while we still can

Soft shell turtles are among the protected species in Sarawak and many ended up in the wildlife trade. - WWF Pics

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KUCHING: The forests provides protein to the local indigenous community but do not take more than what is needed said World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia Sarawak Programme Leader, Dr Jason Hon.

Dr Hon said it is understandable for indigenous people residing in the rural areas to hunt, it needs to be done by taking into consideration which animals are protected under the Sarawak Wild Life Ordinance 1998.

“What is important is not to hunt protected species and to practice sustainable consumption.Some species have already become rare, which is why the government needs to protect them by putting them on the protected list,” said Dr Hon to dayakdaily.com.

There are 279 species of plants and 45 species of animals listed as Critically Endangered, Endangered or Vulnerable under the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species in Sarawak.

Sarawak alone has various legislations on the conservation of biological diversity, such as National Parks and Nature Reserves Ordinance 1998, Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998, Forest Ordinance 2015, Natural Resources and Environment (Amendment) Ordinance 1993, Sarawak Biodiversity Centre (Amendment) Ordinance 2014, Public Parks and Greens Ordinance 1993, and Water Ordinance 1994 for protection of water catchments.

Dr Hon noted that despite all these laws, wildlife often make the headlines for the wrong reasons such as wildlife trafficking, illegal trading and hunting.

“When people take more than what they need, there is always an intention to sell the leftovers. This is when the practice becomes wrong as it will create a supply and demand for wildlife meat and parts. Trading of wildlife meat and parts is illegal in Sarawak,” Dr Hon added.

As such, Dr Hon urged the public, especially those celebrating the coming Harvest Festival such as Gawai Dayak or even Pesta Kaamatan in Sabah, to help spread the conservation message to keep animals safe in their natural habitats.

“Let’s not stop there, but also communicate the same message to protect wild animals during all other festive celebrations. It would be a pity if we continue to lose biodiversity, particularly wildlife, and only be able to learn and see them on textbooks in the future,” he said.

In 2015, The Wildlife Trade Monitoring Network (TRAFFIC) reports, illegal hunters today have become sophisticated with their method of selling.

It is reported that they have begun using social media such as Facebook, Instagram and Whatsapp to promote their ‘products’. The public can do their part by not disseminating such postings.

“Don’t wait until all animals are near extinction to start conserving them. Take a lesson from our last three rhinos in Sabah. Keeping them alive is already a challenge, what more in trying to breed them,” he added.

Dr Hon urged the public to contact the authorities o report wildlife trade to Forest Department Sarawak hotline at 1800-88-7777 or Sarawak Forestry Department (SFC) hotline at 019-8859996 (Kuching), 019-8290994 (Miri), 019-8266096 (Bintulu) and 019-8290992 (Sibu). – dayakdaily.com