Illegal occupants ousted from wildlife sanctuary

Enforcement officers raiding illegal colonies at Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary near Kuching.

Enforcement officers raiding illegal colonies at Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary near Kuching.

MIRI: The Sarawak Forest Department and Sarawak Forestry Corporation are carrying out raids in Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary against illegal occupants.

Widespread encroachment by these illegal occupants have been detected inside the sanctuary which is located 60km from Kuching in southern Sarawak.

These forest enforcement agencies have launched a crackdown to remove these illegal occupants who had already cleared part of the sanctuary near the Pan Borneo Highway to plant commercial trees and crops.

A Sarawak Forest Department source in his latest updates to StarMetro said the crackdown dubbed “Ops Samunsam” started on March 6 and will go on until end of this month.

“So far, we have found eight structures built inside the wildlife sanctuary by the illegal occupants and we have demolished these concrete buildings.

“We have also uncovered thousands of commercial trees they had planted and we have uprooted them.

“There were some illegal occupants who tried to stop us but our enforcement units continued with the demolition tasks.

“We brought along the police and personnel from other relevant agencies with us.

“Initial probe showed that the encroachment of Samunsam sanctuary happened because of the ongoing construction of the Pan Borneo Highway along the route to Telok Melano,” said a Sarawak Forest Department source.

So far, more than 2,500 oil palm trees planted by the illegal occupants have been found.

These illegally-planted trees were uprooted by excavators along with more than 1,600 coconut trees and other commercial crops that were also illegally planted in the sanctuary, he said.

These areas will be replanted with trees like engkabang and meranti species, he added.

Southern & Eastern Region , Sarawak