Say ‘no’ to wild meat this festive season

KUCHING: This Lunar New Year, World Wide Fund for Nature – Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) is calling on the public to avoid consuming wild or exotic meat. Even though some wild meat is considered a special culinary delight by some, it is illegal in Sarawak to buy or sell wild meat in any form.

WWF-Malaysia Head of Conservation for Sarawak Dr Henry Chan would like to particularly highlight the selling of soft-shelled or freshwater turtles in the Padungan area in the city which has been going on for several weeks now and on daily basis.

 

One of the turtle sellers waiting for customers near Jalan Padungan’s roundabout. ©WWF-Malaysia/Zora Chan

One of the turtle sellers waiting for customers near Jalan Padungan’s roundabout. ©WWF-Malaysia/Zora Chan

 

This is because all soft-shelled turtles (from the family Tryonychidea), also known by its common name, labi-labi in Bahasa Malaysia are protected species under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998, he said.

It was observed that the number of people selling the soft shell turtles have doubled as the Lunar New Year approaches, he said.

 

All soft-shelled turtles (from the family Tryonychidea), also known by  its common name, labi-labi in Bahasa Malaysia are protected species under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998 and therefore, it is illegal to catch, sell and eat the reptile.  ©WWF-Malaysia/Belinda Lip

All soft-shelled turtles (from the family Tryonychidea), also known by its common name, labi-labi in Bahasa Malaysia are protected species under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998 and therefore, it is illegal to catch, sell and eat the reptile.
©WWF-Malaysia/Belinda Lip

 

“To our knowledge, the species sold are Asian soft shell turtle and South East Asian box turtle.

“We have informed the sellers on a few occasions that it is an offence to sell wildlife in Sarawak but the sellers seem to be ignoring our advice. Last week, during our CEO Dato’ Dionysius Sharma’s working visit to Kuching, he and I also advised the sellers to stop selling and release the turtles.

“Instead the sellers tried to convince us that we could buy and release the turtles if we did not wish to eat them,” he pointed out.

Dr Chan said buying and releasing the turtles would be equally problematic as this would only create more demand for the animal in the market.

 

WWF-Malaysia senior management officials (left) advising one of the turtle sellers to stop catching and selling the reptile. ©WWF-Malaysia/Zora Chan

WWF-Malaysia senior management officials (left) advising one of the turtle sellers to stop catching and selling the reptile. ©WWF-Malaysia/Zora Chan

 

“We also received complaints from the public on the matter and since WWF-Malaysia is a non-governmental organization, we do not have the authority to take action against illegal trading of wildlife,” he added.

He said WWF-Malaysia has informed authorities concerned namely Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) and Kuching City South Council (MBKS) on the matter last month as it is an offence to sell wild meat.

He said the organization also received other information of soft-shelled turtles and other wild meat being sold in other parts of Sarawak via the social media.

WWF-Malaysia hoped that authorities concerned would take necessary actions against those supplying, selling and buying the wild meat.

Urging the public to do their part for conservation by not consuming turtle meat, Dr Chan said there is a special day dedicated for the reptile, World Turtle Day (May 23), aimed at increasing respect and knowledge for the world’s oldest creatures.

He explained that human survival depends on the existence of functioning ecosystems, and wildlife is the key that keeps forests alive.

Dr Chan added that animals categorized as protected species under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998 means they are now rare, due to hunting, habitat destruction and cruel pet trade.

A license is needed to keep them as pets, hunt, kill, capture, sell import or export them, or possess any recognizable part of these animals. The penalties for hunting or possessing any of these animals dead or alive, and possessing any of their parts without a license is a fine of RM10,000 and one year imprisonment.

– Ends –

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