KUCHING: Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) is on the alert for illegal wildlife threats, particularly poaching of sun bears, following reports that China is promoting bear bile as treatment for Covid-19.
SFC said personnel from regional and site offices and its swift wildlife action team (SWAT) had increased their patrols at various markets throughout Sarawak to prevent possible poaching activities.“Enforcement officers are on standby and ready to investigate any information they receive. Regional enforcement officers, together with more than 300 honorary wildlife rangers all over Sarawak, are cooperating and will alert the team if such activities are found, ” SFC said in a statement.
It was responding to a recent news report of threats to the endangered sun bear after Beijing reportedly approved the use of bear bile to treat Covid-19.
The report also cited a study conducted last year which showed poachers were continuing to hunt for sun bears to cater to demand from traditional Chinese medicine practitioners in Sabah and Sarawak.
SFC said anyone caught hunting or trading in bear or other animal parts would be severely punished
It said it was working with other enforcement agencies, including local authorities, police and the army, to ensure that poachers and smugglers are jailed in accordance with the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.
“Bear bile is not what the Sarawak government, or in fact most other governments, are using as a cure.
“At a time like this, when our frontline healthcare experts and so many other sectors are doing everything they can to contain the outbreak and treat patients, poaching bears is not a solution, ” it said.
SFC noted that Sarawak was currently implementing tight border controls during the movement control order (MCO) to curb the spread of Covid-19.
“This may control transboundary poaching and illicit international trafficking of endangered species, including parts, along border areas, ” it said, adding that enforcement was not on lockdown during the MCO.
Those with information on illegal wildlife activities can call SFC hotlines at 016-856 5564/019-885 9996 (Kuching), 019-888 3561 (Sibu), 019-822 3449/019-833 2737 (Bintulu) and 019-829 0994/018-979 9778 (Miri).