KUCHING: Sarawak plans to create crocodile-free zones and crocodile sanctuaries to manage the growing number of reptiles and reduce conflict with humans, says Datuk Len Talif Salleh.
The state Deputy Natural Resources and Urban Development Minister said the number of crocodiles in the state based on sightings is estimated to have nearly doubled from 13,500 in 2014 to almost 25,000 this year.
"Using this data, we identify which areas should be crocodile-free zones and which can be crocodile sanctuaries.
"If a crocodile is sighted in a certain area we want to designate as a crocodile-free zone, we have to remove it by culling or moving it to a sanctuary.
"As crocodiles are very mobile, we have to ensure that the sanctuary is in a secluded area," he told a press conference at the Sarawak Legislative Assembly on Tuesday (Nov 21).
Len Talif said Pulau Kera in the Kuching Wetlands National Park, Pulau Seduku in Sri Aman and an area within the Rajang Mangrove National Park had been identified as possible sites for crocodile sanctuaries.
In addition, he said a crocodile monitoring application was being developed for the public to monitor the reptiles' presence.
"For example, if you want to go for a picnic, you can check the app to find out which area is safe and has a high presence of crocodiles.
"We will start with a simple app where locals can report crocodile sightings, and we will identify the location using coordinates," he said, adding that the app was expected to be ready next year.