Malaysia: ‘Protecting Sarawak’s wildlife a niche tourism product’

Cecilia Sman Borneo Post 3 Feb 19;

MIRI: Sarawakians should cooperate with the authorities by not buying, rearing or trapping protected and totally protected wild animals, to prevent them from being extinct.

Assistant Minister of Tourism, Arts and Culture Datuk Lee Kim Shin regards continuous and strong cooperation as being vital when it comes to protecting these animals from extinction and Sarawak’s tourism focus.

“Currently among our tourism targets include promoting nature tourism to tap its rich biodiversity, which is a niche tourism product especially to naturalists.

“However, if there are continuous negative reports on cruelty to animals and rampant hunting by the people in Sarawak, it would have adverse impact on our tourism industry. Needless to say, such cruelty could lead to the extinction of these wildlife and the offenders too are liable to face heavy penalties,” Lee stressed yesterday when asked for comments on the confiscation of two protected macaques on Friday, which were caged illegally at the backyard of a house in Taman Tunku here

On the prompt action taken by the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC)’s Swift Wildlife Action Team (SWAT) in rescuing the two monkeys, Lee commended their action.

“Soon after I called SFC general manager Oswald Braken Tisen in Kuching, the SFC’s SWAT here sprang into action in rescuing the two macaques and brought them to the PNR (Piasau Nature Reserve) where they will be temporarily kept for health checks and treatment,” he said.

Lee said Braken told him that after the macaques were confirmed to be in good condition, they would be sent to and released at the Matang Wildlife Sanctuary in Kuching.

At the same time, Lee also called upon the Sarawak Forest Department and SFC to intensify their enforcement activities to book those contravening the Sarawak Wildlife Protection Ordinance (1998).

“Enforcement should be intensified and on-going, as on several occasions we read newspaper reports and also complaints from the public on the sales of these totally protected animals in the open markets, including in Miri,” said Lee, who is Senadin assemblyman.

Under the Sarawak Wildlife Protection Ordinance (1998), any person who hunts, kills, captures, sells, offers for sale or claims to be offering for sale, imports and exports, or is in possession of any totally protected animal (and protected animal) or any recognisable part or derivative or any nest thereof, shall be guilty of an offence.

For some totally protected animals such as the rhinoceros, the penalty is five years’ jail and a fine up to RM50,000, while for protected animals, the offender is liable to two years’ jail and a RM25,000 fine.

On his visit to the give Mandarin oranges to the two rescued macaques yesterday, Lee said it was also done in celebration of the Chinese New Year.

“The monkeys enjoyed the oranges that I gave them; (the oranges are meant) to wish them good luck and healthy life thereafter,” he said with a smile.

Sarawak minister tells public to stop buying, rearing, trapping wildlife
stephen then The Star 2 Feb 19;

MIRI: Members of the public have been told to stop buying, rearing and trapping wild-animals.

Sarawak Assistant Tourism Minister Datuk Lee Kim Shin, who on Friday (Feb 1) coordinated the rescue of two protected macaques in Miri city, said Saturday (Feb 2) that wildlife possession must not become a norm.

"Do not buy, rear or trap wildlife. Do not keep them as pets without the correct knowledge of how to handle these creatures in a humane and proper way.

"If anyone is in possession of such wildlife now, they must inform the forestry authorities.

"It was SWAT that rescued the two macaques here.

"After I called up SFC state chief Oswald Bracken Tisen in Kuching yesterday, he directed SWAT to rescue the macaques from the Taman Tunku house here," said Lee.

Lee, who is Senadin state assemblyman, visited the Piasau Nature Reserve, where the two rescued macaques will be kept for health checks and treatment.

"After the macaques are confirmed to be in good condition, they will be sent to the Matang Wildlife Sanctuary near Kuching to be released there," he said.

Initial probes in this case showed that the owners who illegally kept them for years in the backyard at Taman Tunku Miri had reared them from the time they were babies, he said.

He said the owners told the SFC officers they took in the animals after "finding them abandoned" in a forested area in Miri.

Lee said SFC is probing other cases of illegal wildlife possession.

Anyone with information should call the SFC in Kuching, or send details via SFC emails and public hotlines that are available on the SFC website.

Blatant sale and slaughter of wildlife in Miri
stephen then The Star 3 Feb 19;

MIRI: Information is swiftly flowing from the public on the blatant sale and slaughter of wildlife in Miri city.

On Sunday (Feb 3) morning, The Star received information about the sale of live terrapins, tortoises, squirrels, reptiles and cages being hidden beneath counters that may include monkeys.

The sale of wildlife is reportedly happening in Centrepoint Tamu and Tamu Muhibbah here, Pujut Corner area, Pujut Padang Kerbau area, Tudan E-Mart Tamu and in mobile vans.

A lady said she witnessed squirrels and terrapins being sold and some that look like they have been freshly-slaughtered in Centrepoint Tamu.

When contacted, Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Miri chairman Musa Musbah said the authorities should act without delay.

"We had received similar information about cruelty towards animals and wildlife, and had forwarded information to the authorities.

"Sadly, there is little result. Those with the power entrusted to them should stop such cruel trade.

"They must do the job entrusted to them," he said.

On Friday (Feb 1), The Star Online highlighted the cruelty and subsequent rescue of two macaques in Miri.

The Sarawak Forestry Corporation and Sarawak Forest Department are in charge of wildlife issues while the Miri City Council is in charge of trade licensing.