KUCHING: A state environmental group has objected to a call for Dayaks in Kapit to be given leeway to sell wild boar meat to supplement their income which had been hard hit by the economic impact of Covid-19.
Urging the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) to continue with the enforcement operations, Sarawak Eco-Warriors said it was an offence under the state’s Wildlife Protection Ordinance to sell or buy wildlife or wildlife products hunted anywhere in the state.
“The ordinance was enacted for the purpose of curbing issues linked with exploitation and extinction of native and endemic species in Sarawak, ” said its adviser Mark Liao responding to Deputy Chief Minister Tan Sri James Masing’s call last week for SFC to allow the Dayaks in Kapit, a rural district in central Sarawak, to sell wild boar meat to supplement their income.
Masing said elderly folk in Kapit had complained to him that SFC officers had confiscated their wild boar meat for sale, adding that their livelihood depended on these sales.
Liao however said generating income from exploiting wildlife was not only environmentally unsustainable but was also a short-term financial solution.
He said local leaders should look towards new solutions for native communities to generate sustainable legal income.
Sarawak Eco-Warriors secretary Ashley Kho meanwhile said that the Covid-19 crisis highlighted the ongoing risk of consuming wildlife products.
“If these markets persist, the public will continue to face potentially more lethal viruses. Instead of subjecting ourselves to these risks, we should help those affected to look for more sustainable means of income, ” she said.
Meanwhile, SFC reiterated that the Wildlife Protection Ordinance does not permit the sale of wildlife, including non-protected species taken from the wild.
It said natives residing in native areas were permitted to hunt for their own consumption but not for trade or sale.
“This is to ensure that rural communities continue to have the food that they need. Studies show that wildlife trade in town is the single cause of the decline of wildlife and depriving rural communities of their source of protein, ” said SFC.
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