Referring to concerns expressed by NGOs and Sarawak epidemiologists about the live wildlife species in international wildlife trade, seen as the potential cause of the emergence of Covid-19, Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC) today announced that they will not be issuing any permits to import any exotic live wildlife until further notice.
Zolkipli Mohamad Aton, the Controller of Wild Life disclosed that many of our native species are also under threat from exotic species that are imported as wildlife pets, usually illegally. If imported illegally, the exotic pets did not pass through veterinary or public health checks, and may be harbouring unknown viruses or other pathogens that could potentially proliferate in pet shops and Sarawakian homes.
He further clarified in a SFC statement that when these exotic pets are released into Sarawak’s forests and waterways, these species can deprive the local species of food resources. “Some of the exotic species are also much more aggressive than related local species so they out-compete them, causing major declines of those native species. Examples include major decreases in ranges of munias caused by the exotic Eurasian Tree Sparrow, common or Indian mynas displacing other native birds, and the proliferation of the American bull frog in our gardens displacing our grass of kampong frog (Fejervarya limnocharis).”
Therefore, SFC will continue to work with various border control agencies such as Royal Malaysian Customs Department to stop the smuggling of these exotic species into the state. Seizures will be made at border control areas such as airports, ports, customs checkpoints and also pet stores that do not have legal licenses or permits.
In the next 6 months, SFC will tag legal, licensed exotic wild animals in the State, and invest in veterinary health checks on these animals.