Amid croc sightings, experts call for better habitat protection
PETALING JAYA: Two environmentalists have called for better habitat protection following a recent increase in crocodile sightings, which have been shared on social media.
Last Friday, a crocodile was spotted at the Tanjung Lipat beach, prompting the Sabah wildlife department to urge caution among visitors.
On Tuesday, another crocodile was spotted on a road at Kampung Seri Damai in Kuantan, Pahang. A 30-second video of the reptile was recorded by a resident and uploaded by Pulau Manis assemblyman Rafiq Khan Ahmad Khan on Facebook.
Teckwyn Lim, of the University of Nottingham, said the government needs to protect crocodile habitats, including wetlands of international importance.
“In particular, the federal government must keep Malaysia’s Ramsar sites intact.
“It’s disturbing that such habitats have been destroyed. For example, the Sungai Pulai Ramsar site has been converted into a golf course,” Lim told FMT.
Ramsar sites are wetlands of international importance that have been designated by virtue of the Ramsar Convention on Wetlands for their importance in conserving biological diversity.
Lim said although the uptick in sightings could be attributed to the proliferation of handphones and social media, “it’s also a good sign indicating a population rebound”.
Ecotourism and Conservation Society of Malaysia (Ecomy) president Andrew Sebastian said the government should improve monitoring and protection of wildlife.
“River reserves, wildlife corridors and national and state parks should be looked at holistically to protect wildlife wherever they may be.
“The big picture here is that we need to do more in protecting wildlife and the habitats they live in,” he said.
He said while small populations of crocodiles exist in Peninsular Malaysia, it was rare for them to be spotted outside their natural habitats as most of them have been “decimated”.
“In fact, the estuarine (saltwater) crocodile is now endangered in Peninsular Malaysia, but thriving in Borneo, Sabah and Sarawak,” he said.
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