KUCHING – The Natural Resources and Environment Ministry and the Sarawak government will discuss effort to set guidelines and regulations concerning the hunting and trading of crocodiles, which is expected to be finalised in another six months.
Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said this followed Malaysia’s success in downlisting the category of crocodiles from Appendix I to Appendix II at the ongoing Convention of International Trade of in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) Conference of Parties in South Africa.
He said he was informed by the ministry’s secretary-general attending the conference in Johannesburg that CITES had agreed with Malaysia’s proposal to downlist the status of saltwater crocodiles in Sarawak to enable it to be hunted and traded.
The minister said this was because there was a steep rise in the population of saltwater crocodiles in Sarawak and it had become more and more obvious since 2010, which had caused various conflicts with humans.
Other states have not recorded much conflicts with crocodiles, so the hunting and trading of the reptile will only apply in Sarawak, he told reporters here today.
Wan Junaidi said many aspects had to be taken into consideration in line with the effort, including to ensure that it would not cause extinction of crocodiles, that it would reduce human-crocodile conflicts, and that it would help increase the income of residents residing along river banks.
He said crocodile meat could be sold to countries like Thailand, China, Vietnam and Cambodia and it was also no secret that crocodile skin had high value in the market, which would make the reptile a good source of income for rural residents.
More licences for hunting and trading of crocodiles would probably be issued to districts with high crocodile population, he said, adding that other matters to be considered were business licence for crocodile hunters, limit of licence, hunting season and quota.
Based on research, he said there were currently 13,500 crocodiles in over 40 rivers in Sarawak, with Kota Samarahan showing the highest increase in the crocodile population at 108.5 per cent this year compared to the number recorded in 1985, followed by Limbang (38 per cent) and Batang Lupar (28 per cent).
Over the past several years, he said 52 human-crocodile conflicts were reported in the state, which had also claimed the lives of 27 people.