KUCHING, Nov 21 — The state government may consider limited hunting of crocodile season in certain riverine areas of Sarawak known to have a high concentration of the reptile population, Deputy Minister of Urban Planning and Resource Management Datuk Len Talif Salleh said today.
He said it would not be a free-for-all, but with some kind of controlled hunting and materials harvested could be traded.
“I am sure the Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) has identified some markets, like Hong Kong, to sell the crocodile hide,” he told reporters at the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly here.
He said the crocodile population in Sarawak is growing at a faster rate, saying that in 2014 the population, according to a census conducted by SFC, was about 13,500 and this year, it was over 24,000.
“This census is not based on headcount, but based on sightings. The number of crocodiles could be much higher,” he said.
He added that based on the sightings, SFC would decide which areas are going to be declared crocodile-free zones and the areas that are going to be crocodile sanctuaries.
Len said the areas declared as sanctuaries for crocodiles could be turned into tourist spots.
He said the state government welcomes any private company which wants to invest in the areas declared as crocodile sanctuaries for tourism products.
He said SFC has identified Sungai Bako, Batang Lupar, Batang Samarahan, Sungai Sadong, Sungai Sibuti, Batang Kayan, Batang Sarawak, Sungai Kemena, Sungai Saratok, Sungai Balingian and Sungai Oya as crocodile-infested rivers.
Earlier in his reply to a question from Abdul Yakub Arbi (GPS-Balingian during question and answer session of the state assembly, Len said the SFC Swift Wildlife Action Team (Swat) had sighted 114 crocodiles along Sungai Balingian in a survey conducted in 2014.
He said in a survey conducted this year, the number has jumped by 37 per cent.
Len said the SFC has erected 112 signages in areas known to be infested with crocodiles to warn the residents of the risks of attacks.