Forestry Dept refutes claims

Thursday April 24, 2008
The Star

PETALING JAYA: The Sarawak Forestry Department has refuted accusations that weak enforcement allowed wild animals to be captured and caged for display.
“The department has always placed high emphasis on its credibility,” said department director Datuk Len Talif Salleh in a press statement.
“We would like to reiterate that the department does not practise favouritism or double standards in executing our enforcement activities,” he said in the statement issued through the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry
He was responding to recent reports in The Star about unattended complaints over a sun bear that died after it was kept in a tiny cage for six months for display to tourists at a private farm along the Miri-Bintulu Second Coastal Highway in Sarawak.
The report said that the department failed to attend to a public complaint by a foreigner last year about the matter months before the sun bear died.
Len Talif stressed that enforcement officers were well trained to handle matters in all circumstances but assured the public that the allegation was being investigated.
If disciplinary rules were breached, stern action would be taken against any officer for a lackadaisical attitude in executing enforcement duties, he said.
He also pointed out that Traffic, an international wildlife trade monitoring network, had commended Sarawak's effective curbing of the wildlife trade in its 2007 report.
Referring to the sun bear incident, Len Talif said Sarawak Forestry Corporation enforcement officials were sent to the location to investigate on April 14.
He said the owner of the farm did not appear until late afternoon after attempts to contact him were made and that the team confiscated the wildlife without the presence of the owner according to section 49 of the Wildlife Protection Ordinance 1998.
“The police report was made at Miri Central police station in the late afternoon and further investigation continued the following day.”
Len Talif said the department had introuced a 24-hour hotline – 019-8897222 or 082-302606 – for quick complaints.


No comments: