What do Sarawakians really think about endangered wildlife poaching?
SARAWAK’S BEAUTIFUL WILDLIFE is protected under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance, 1998 (Chapter 26).
The ordinance separates the endangered species into two lists, Totally Protected Species which covers animals such as clouded leopard, orang utan, and proboscis monkey.
Then there is the Protected Species list. Some of the animals under this list can usually be seen making their way onto dinner tables of restaurants and longhouses.
The list includes all bats, pangolin, porcupines, sun bear, all soft-shelled turtles; all monitor lizards and all pythons.
For Protected Species, one requires a licence from the Forest Department to keep them as pets, hunt, kill, capture, sell, import or export them; which most of us are not aware of.
Bakunparadise is a public Facebook page dedicating to promote Bakun area as a tourist paradise. The usual posts consist of picturesque views of the dam and areas surrounding it.
But recently on Sept 28, Bakunparadise posted an eyebrow raising photo of a dead clouded leopard and a juvenile wild boar with caption, “After attacking two dogs and almost attacked a hunter, this leopard is dead. #wwfmalaysia where is your awareness programme?”
The admins of Bakunparadise also commented, “Logging and massive deforestation for agriculture purposes have left these animals nowhere to stay. It is inevitable when the animals came across with hunters who search for food.”
Yet, the most interesting part is not the photo of the dead leopard but how the public responded the situation.
Sometimes we can find lies and false sentiments on social network sites (SNS), but these sites are also a place where some express their honest opinions.
Although it was allegedly an accidental kill of a Total Protected Species, the response to this particular Bakunparadise post, offers some insight on what a small portion of Sarawakians truly think about killing any wildlife or trading them.
Under the name Monica Sedai, a netizen commented “We can kill animals but don’t abandon human babies.”
She continued, “In the bible have said, we humans have given the power over all living things, as long as we don’t kill humans. So don’t worry.”
Fabian Law disagreed with her, “It is true God have given us the power over living things but humans also responsible to defend and protect all animals from extinction right?”
He added, “Such a pity a beautiful and rare animal have to die like this. There should be more awareness to avoid killing like this”
Another Facebook user, Michaelmick Mick said “Cook that leopard for medicine. Delicious”.
Hunt Simo Haya suggested the leopard should have been kept as a pet and another user Otto Otto wanted its teeth.
Not all applauded the hunter for killing the leopard, Normin NY stated the hunter should have just chased the leopard away, not killing it.
“Too cute to die,” said Orlanda Grace Guree.
Roscha Mapang Leo gave another comment, “To avoid such thing, the government has to be responsible by giving better living to those who live in the rural areas especially those who hunt for living.”
What do you think?
We asked The Borneo Post SEEDS’ readers on what they thought of endangered wildlife poaching and trading, here are their two cents.
Although he never personally encountered any endangered wildlife animals being traded or hunted so far, Sebastian Conrad was well aware of the situation here in Sarawak.
Based in Bintulu, the 28-year-old engineering clerk stated, “I think to stop endangered wildlife hunting or trading is quite impossible since we know that in Sarawak there are lots of habitats for wildlife.
“But what we can do to help to prevent these activities is to tighten the laws, for example, license for firearms and we can also organize the exhibition on wildlife to create the mindset of the younger generation about the wildlife in Sarawak,” Sebastian suggested.
As for Olivia Chin Ei Ching, to stop both endangered wildlife trading and illegal poaching here in Sarawak is tricky.
She stated that wildlife trading depends on demand, saying “When there is demand there will be supply”.
When there is no demand that is when the supply too stops.
Living in Kuching, Chin said she was not fully aware of wildlife was trading or illegal poaching that happening here in Sarawak as she never came across people selling exotic meats or hunters bringing home hunting souvenirs.
Chin commented “No ordinary people can do poaching. It usually is someone familiar with the jungle. Poachers are paid handsomely I guess. The market price for exotic meat is high and maybe’ exported out the country”.
She also pointed, “Deforestation could be the main culprit. Imagine no more homes for them. Then this forces them to go further out away from jungle for food so they eventually become easy target”.
“If the forest is still deep and thick, I’m sure any humans venture into it may not come out alive”
“I know it is happening but I’m not sure of the magnitude”, said Sim Kuan Yew.
Based on his experience, Sim shared “I’ve come across hunters who hunt wildlife for their own consumption such as wild boars, deer, and the sort. I’ve even heard about some of these hunters eating our hornbills, commenting about how tough the hornbill meats are”.
Sim stated, “I think the problem for a lot of illegal things including but not limited to the possession of wildlife animals is that we never really try to arrest people who own them”.
He added, “If we start to catch people who own exotic wildlife we’ll slash the demand, therefore we’ll slash the incentive of supplying to such demand in terms of affirmative action I think this is the only way”.
The 26 year old master student of educational administration stressed that we have to punish not only the suppliers but also the customers.
Unlike Sebastian, Sim thought that education and awareness is useful in the long run but it’s too slow for now.
Commenting on medicinal values in exotic wildlife, he said we can’t do much except keep showing people there are no scientific proofs to them.
Will illegal poaching ever be stopped here in Sarawak? Sim answered, “I’m afraid I’m not very optimistic about this idea. Due to the fact that Sarawak is a big area and it’s hard to control the whole area to prevent this from happening,”
He continued, “But I am sure that it can be reduced with newer generation coming in. There will be less people wanting to be a part of endangered poaching or trading as more and more people are getting educated.”
So, what now?
The truth is, public awareness on endangered wildlife hunting trading varies here in Sarawak.
For instance, someone who has lived and breathed city air since birth might think killing any kind of rare animals is repulsive and wrong.
Those who live in the rural areas and have seen their grandfathers, fathers bringing home animals from hunting would think it is normal that animals are hunted for food or sold for extra cash. One may argue that animal conservation is a luxury that cannot be afforded by those who depend on the jungle to eke out their living.
Regardless where we stand in this matter, we are all human, the highest place on the food chain.
The late Crocodile Hunter, Steve Irwin once said, “If we can teach people about wildlife, they will be touched. Share my wildlife with me. BECAUSE HUMANS WANT TO SAVE THINGS THAT THEY LOVE.”
Perhaps if all Sarawakians shared the same love for endangered wildlife, these animals could escape extinction.