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KUCHING, May 26: Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department (Parliament and Law) Dato Sri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar is urging the relevant authorities to take appropriate action to ensure that the incidents involving crocodile attacks do not disrupt the lives of the people of Sarawak.
Wan Junaidi’s press statement today comes in response to an increase in crocodile attacks across Sarawak, including two recent incidents involving a five-year-old boy in Kampung Nyabut, Telaga Air here, last Saturday, and a man, Sebarang Bingkok, 56, in Sungai Ahong, Kampung Kangka in Lundu, last Thursday.
“If such issues are not addressed, they will result in frequent clashes between humans and crocodiles in Sarawak, where people live near rivers and estuaries.
“If you recall, I was able to remove Sarawak from Schedule One (1) to Two (2) of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) due to concerns about an overabundance of crocodiles at the time,” he said.
He stated that in the years preceding the 1960s, these reptiles began to breed and were found all over Sarawak.
“When Sarawak is in Schedule Two (2), the authorities have the authority to catch and kill crocodiles on a regular and systematic basis in order to reduce the number of the animals without causing extinction.
“Even though it is already in Schedule Two (2), we do not have control over this reptilian population until the attack occurs outside of the city, in the hinterland.
“With so many crocodiles, it is certain that there will be crocodiles and prey as long as there is drainage, drains, ditches, rivers, and estuaries,” he explained.
Wan Junaidi said if no action is taken to reduce the number of crocodiles, it will have an impact on what Cites decided when it met in Johannesburg, South Africa in 2016.
“I’d like to know if there is no legislation or system in place to allow crocodiles to be traded by local parties who provide returns to the local community, as required by Cites.
“Everyone knows that the profits from the crocodile skin industry reach tens of billions per year, indicating that it is in high demand, while crocodile meat is also in high demand from foreign countries, reaching thousands of tonnes per year,” he noted.
Wan Junaidi, who is also the Santubong MP, added that given the high returns, locals, including residents, should be given the opportunity to enter the industry under the supervision and guidance of the authorities in order to avoid breaking the law.
“I am hopeful that all parties and local residents can work together to protect family members and the surrounding community.
“At the same time, the action taken had no effect on crocodile habitat.
“Finally, I express my condolences and sorrow for the two crocodile attacks, and I hope that the victims’ families remain patient and resilient in the face of this allegation,” he said. — DayakDaily