KOTA SAMARAHAN: A mother is in grief after receiving news that her eldest son, Ismandi Osman, 38, is feared to have been devoured by a crocodile while fishing in Sungai Tuang, in Kampung Pinang, here.
Jeriah Suhaili, 64, recalled her last words to Ismandi was to remind him to always be safe when fishing for fish and prawns at the river for which it was the main source of income.
“Every time, when he’s leaving the house to work, I always advised him to be safe. Ismadi understood the consequence when fishing at the river because we knew there are crocodiles, and he always replied saying the river is our source of income,” Jeriah told Bernama when met at his house in Kampung Pinang, today.
On Sept 16, Ismandi was reported missing, believed to be attacked by crocodiles after the search and rescue operation found signs of a struggle on the river bank where the victim was checking the nets.
Up till today, the 18th day, Ismandi is still missing.
However Jeriah has never lost faith that her son could be found and joined in several SAR operations to search for him.
Asked about the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and Sarawak government’s effort to set guidelines and regulations on the hunting and trading of crocodiles, she said, it was a good decision given the threat of crocodiles often faced by the villagers especially those living along the river.
According to a study in 2015, there are 13,500 crocodiles in 40 of Sarawak’s rivers and Kota Samarahan was listed as having the highest percentage of crocodile population, with 108.5 per cent compared to 1985.
Due to the incident, a villager in Kampung Pinang, Long Bashah, 59, has quit picking fruits at his orchard located in the headwaters of the river (Sungai Tuang).
Long said, normally he uses his boat to reach his orchard, which is about 10 minutes away compared to a trip by road, which took longer.
“I planted pineapples, rambutan and other fruits in my orchard but after the incident, I’m scared,” he said.
Long said every time he rows his boat, it is common to see crocodiles basking in the sun at the river bank.
When a helicopter crashed in Batang Lupar near Sri Aman last May, the SAR team often encountered the vicious reptile.
Sarawak Fire and Rescue Department director, Nor Hisham Mohamad said safety measures at risky areas which involved the operation was taken into account to prevent rescue teams from any crocodile attacks. – Bernama