Getting the licence to kill
by Mahathir Haroun. Posted on August 25, 2012, Saturday
State to seek CITES permission to cull crocs in the face of increasing attacks on humans
KUCHING: The state government plans to submit a paper to the Convention on International Trade on Endangered Species (CITES) to allow the state to cull crocodiles in the wild.
As a signatory to CITES, Sarawak is governed by its rules and at present crocodiles in the state are placed under Appendix I of the convention which protects the reptiles from hunting and culling.
However, with crocodile attacks becoming more frequent in the state, Dewan Rakyat Deputy Speaker Datuk Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the state would table a paper to CITES soon to downgrade the status of crocodiles in the wild to Appendix 2 which allows the reptiles to be culled through hunting and their skins to be traded.
The huge increase of crocodile population in the rivers of Sarawak in recent years has led to frequent attacks on humans in the state, the latest occurring yesterday when a foreign worker was bitten while answering nature’s call by the river in Pending here (see accompanying story).
On Wednesday a boy survived an attack by a crocodile while playing in shallow waters off Pasir Panjang beach near the estuary of the Sarawak River opposite Santubong near here.
Wan Junaidi who is also the Santubong MP pointed out that the population of crocodiles had increased from three to six crocodiles for every kilometre along many rivers, instilling fear among those who live by the waterways.
“I was informed that the state government is working on a paper so that this issue can be tabled at the convention. With this, the law on crocodiles can be moved to Appendix 2 from Appendix 1,” he told reporters yesterday.
He explained that since crocodiles were now a protected species, there was nothing much that could be done despite increasing number of attacks on people, many of which were fatal.
“At the moment we can only take action against these reptiles when they attacked people. But, are the crocodiles we capture the actual killers or the innocent ones”,” he said.
He said Malaysia, with the agreement of South East Asia countries, had previously tabled a paper to amend the law but this was opposed by Australia.
Commenting on a crocodile attack on a teenage boy in Pasir Panjang last Wednesday, he said the location was a tourist destination and the attack would scare away visitors.
“There was supposed to be a warning sign but it has been removed by irresponsible parties,” said Junaidi, adding he had suggested the Tourism Ministry build a barrier off the beach to avert crocodile attacks.