Malaysia: ‘Selling wildlife is killing Miri’s image with tourists’

The Star 31 Aug 15;

MIRI: Poaching and selling of wildlife can jeopardise the image of the city as a tourist haven, warned Sarawak Assistant Minister for Communications Datuk Lee Kim Shin.

He said this following reports that wildlife was found being sold illegally at various native markets here.

“Expatriates and foreign tourists are especially sensitive to issues on wildlife protection and cruelty towards animals,” he said.

Lee was informed a few days ago that an expatriate family had come across native traders at Tamu Muhibbah, a market in the city centre, selling live tortoises kept in inhumane conditions.

He then alerted the Sarawak Forestry Department, which ordered the enforcement unit in Miri to investigate.

“The Sarawak Forestry officers carried out a probe at the native market and found dozens of live tortoises being sold,” said Lee.

“The tortoises were hidden in con­tainers underneath some tables. None of the traders wanted to admit that they were the ones selling the tortoises.”

Lee said the animals were seized and the enforcement officers issued a warning to the traders.

“I hope that the enforcement will continue regularly. There must be strict monitoring to stop such illegal trading of wildlife.

“Expatriates and foreign tourists are very sensitive to such cruel acts and the image of Miri as a tourist spot can be jeopardised,” he said.

The Star had in the past heard public complaints of wildlife – even baby monkeys – being sold secretly by native traders.

Miri has numerous native markets, including Tamu Muhibbah and at the Emart commercial centre beside the highway to the Sarawak-Brunei border.