KUCHING: Saltwater crocodiles in Sarawak, a protected species which has seen an increase in numbers, can soon be culled and traded for their meat and skin.
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) has agreed to Malaysia’s proposal to downlist the reptile from Appendix I to Appendix II at its conference in Johannesburg.
Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar, who announced it yesterday, said the significance of the Appendix II listing was that the crocodiles could be harvested for commercial use.
“There is demand for crocodile meat from countries like China, Thailand and Vietnam, while crocodile skin has a high economic value,” he told a press conference.
Dr Wan Junaidi said Malaysia sought the downlisting as the population of saltwater crocodiles in Sarawak had risen in the last 30 years to about 13,500, leading to more frequent conflicts with humans.
In Sungai Samarahan, where two attacks were reported last month, the crocodile population increased by 108.5% since 1985 while Sungai Limbang saw an increase of 38%.
“This exceeds the numbers needed for conservation efforts. The downlisting was approved on the grounds that it will benefit the rural people who depend on rivers as well as boost their economy.
“At the same time, we will ensure that the harvesting is done in a sustainable manner,” Dr Wan Junaidi said.
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