Catch and release

Fire and Rescue Department officers removing a two-metre long python from a house in Muar on July 12.

JOHOR BARU: Animal calls are becoming the norm for the Johor Fire and Rescue Department, which receives an average of 19 cases a day related to the entry of wildlife into residential homes since the beginning of the year.

Its director Datuk Yahaya Madis said that among animals that the department has caught and rescued include snakes, monkeys, crocodiles, civet cats, stray cows and porcupines.

“We received a total of 3,345 calls on the entry of animals into houses for the first six months of 2020 alone.

“This is an increase of 41.32% compared to the corresponding period in 2019 where there were only about 2,367 calls received on the matter, ” he said when contacted.

“Based on the statistics, we noticed that the number of such incidents increased during the movement control order (MCO) as there were fewer people outside that could scare away or disturb the animals.

“On top of that, a lot of mass cleaning and spring cleaning activities also took place during that period and this removed the animals’ hiding places, ” he said.

He added that such cases also tend to happen more often during and after heavy rain and floods.

Yahaya cited development projects around the animal’s natural habitat as another contributing reason to the increase in incidents.

“Housing and commercial development projects, as well as the clearance of plantation areas to make way for new crops, also contribute to these incidents as the animals’ natural home is wiped out.

“On top of that, cleaning activities at housing areas that are close to the forest fringes can also result in them entering houses, ” he said.

However, Yahaya said that the entry of wild animals, especially reptiles, into houses during and after a flood was common and had been happening for years.

“The animals normally enter these houses in search of food and shelter, ” he said.

He urged the public to immediately call 999 when they come across such incidents, especially those involving wild animals.

“Do not attempt to take any action on your own without proper equipment or the right safety attire.

“If you feel that you can take the animal out on your own, then make sure to block all access so that the animal cannot escape, ” he cautioned.

Meanwhile, Johor Malaysia Nature Society (MNS) vice-president Vincent Chow said the fact that there were fewer people outside during the MCO allowed animals to roam around more freely.

“The places that were previously filled with people are now empty and the animals can reclaim these areas with no human interruptions.

“On top of that, most people were stuck at home during the MCO and tended to notice these instances more than usual, ” he said.

Chow said it was an animal’s normal survival instinct to find higher ground and seek places that were safe, especially during floods.

He also urged the public not to take matters into their own hands and reach out to the authorities when they come across such incidents so that the animals can be safely removed.

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