THERE has been much debate in relation to 1stopbrunei Wildlife’s call for the enforcement of the current Wildlife Act and rewrite to strengthen it, thereby bringing it up to date with current International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN)’s concerns and the extinction risk faced by some of the extraordinary flora and fauna in our beautiful country.
First of all, let me congratulate the club for reaching almost 4,000 signatures on their petition ‘STOP POACHING in Brunei’. It has turned out to be the most active petition on GoPetition.com. I am a wildlife lover and have been looking closely at the club’s articles in print and social media as well as in websites of other nature clubs and relevant authorities in recent months. I am writing in response to the letter of ‘Concerned wildlife enthusiast’ dated December 6, 2014 in the Weekend Bulletin.
I am sure the intention was not to criticise the authorities who I believe are doing everything possible with the budget and resources available to them. The club is, however, understandably asking for an expedited revision on the outdated Wildlife Protection Act of 1974. The Act is three decades old and many animals will cease to exist if nothing is done. We simply do not want to see the loss of rare and endangered species.
On countless times when the public (including myself) tried to contact the authorities regarding the sale of wildlife either on social media or in the open market, their response was they could not take legal action against these sellers as most of the wildlife being sold was not listed and protected under the Wildlife Protection Act.
To date, the only publication I have ever come across is a poster on the types of animal species that are protected under the law, which is exactly similar to what is stated in the Act when it was first drawn up, ie, no additional species have been included.
It was also mentioned how it requires ample amount of research data to back up any decision to protect a particular species of wildlife. Well, the thing is, most of the animals that are captured and sold are already classified as ‘At Risk’ and ‘Threatened’ with extinction, according to the IUCN Red List such as the Pangolins, where all eight species are now classified as ‘Threatened’ with extinction. Is this not a strong enough evidence to protect this particular species?
Furthermore, I am sure the club has never provided any information on the locations and whereabouts of the animals they have released. The letter states that these animals were taken from Sukang and Sg Ingei as what the poachers have informed them. These poachers already know of the location of their poaching activity, hence no extra information was revealed. I’m sure other hardcore poachers as well as would-be poachers have better resources than a newspaper article, especially one that outlines the legal status of such activity.
What we really need in this country is a strong law enforcement to deter such activities and ensure that the protected areas are effectively protected. It is obvious from the boldness of many poachers who actively advertise their poaching activities publicly on social media that they either are not aware that these animals are endangered and/or protected or they simply do not care as law enforcement against poaching is not evident in this country.
Again, it was mentioned how we have to be conscious of the publication of news that reaches nationwide. In my view, information on animal rescues and findings are beneficial as it creates awareness on the presence of these wildlife, thus the pressing need to protect these animals.
In addition, as a result of such publications, an increasing number of individuals are voluntarily handing over the animals to the club as they are now aware that these animals cannot be kept. On top of that, there has been a surge in pictures being posted on social media regarding wildlife that have been sold, roadkill as well as beached marine animals. This is also probably a result of the public being more alert and aware now of the wildlife living amongst them.
Lastly, let’s make it a team effort to protect the biodiversity of Brunei and make it a shining example for other countries to follow, a place where the citizen police protects the flora and fauna because they see it beneficial for themselves and their amazing country. This would offer those of us interested in tightening the law and extending the protected list to work collaboratively to get a positive result, while at the same time allowing us all to think about the impacts of this to those who eke out a living from the capture and sale of exotic species.
– Wildlife club supporter