Challenges in curbing the hunting of wild animals

Screenshot from Facebook of people displaying their 'loot'.
Screenshot from Facebook of people displaying their 'loot'.
Screenshot from Facebook of people displaying their 'loot'.

PETALING JAYA: Lack of awareness amongst locals makes curbing hunting wild animals a challenge, says the Sarawak Forestry Department.

Its director, Sapuan Ahmad, told theSun this issue was a huge problem for the department in curbing hunting for wild animals, especially protected species.

"These are poor people who hunt. To them it is meat, a source of protein. When we tell them that the animals are protected or endangered species, they tell us they didn't know," Sapuan said.

"For example, even if we give the natives synthetic feathers of hornbill for free, they will not accept it. They would want to hunt for the real thing," he said.

He also clarified that it is rare anyway for protected and endangered species to be hunted, usually it is animals like wild boar which are abundant in Sarawak that are hunted.

Sapuan added that under the state's law, natives of Sarawak have the right to hunt.

The Sarawak Wildlife Protection Ordinance does allow natives to hunt but not protected species.

Animals hunted must be for consumption and not for trade or profit.

On the wildlife hunting posts that have since gone viral, he said the enforcement division is looking into it and will be working with Malaysian Communications and Multimedia Commission (MCMC) to track down the people who posted the photos.

"Once we have the response from MCMC we will lodge police reports and call the perpetrators up to find out more," he said.

Sapuan said that as long as there is a demand for exotic meat and wild life animal parts, clamping down on hunters and poachers will remain a challenge.

"As long as there is a demand and a market for exotic meat and animal parts, it is difficult to put a stop to it. We must stop the demand."

Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goossens said that very often protected animals are hunted to be sold for meats and parts.

"The posts on Facebook are more like trophy shots and definitely not for sustenance. Protected animals like the clouded leopard, pangolins and sun bears have a demand in traditional medicine. Animal parts like sun bear paws, pangolin's scales and the leopards claws are sought after parts in Chinese medicine," he told theSun.

"These animals are being openly sold in Facebook and sometimes in public, it is definitely not for sustenance," he added.