Sabah hopes to resolve human-crocodile conflict

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government will find ways to resolve human-crocodile conflicts, while balancing conservation and public safety, says Datuk Christina Liew.

The state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister said experts are also expected to devise a strategy for the conservation of crocodile populations and explore potential for downstream industry development.

Speaking at the closing of the “Managing Crocodile-Human Conflict in Sabah” workshop here on Tuesday (May 14), Liew said for generations, crocodiles have been feared as a threat to human life and livelihood.

“It is imperative to acknowledge their pivotal role in maintaining the health of our eco-system and as a potential resource for improving our local communities’ livelihoods.

“There is a significant gap in our society’s understanding of the growing conflicts between humans and crocodiles, hence, action and a platform are needed to bridge these gaps, educate, and raise awareness,” Liew said in her speech read by the ministry’s deputy permanent secretary l, Mary Malangking.

Drawing inspiration from successful strategies implemented in Sarawak and valuable insights shared by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) crocodile specialist group, Liew said they are equipped with the knowledge needed to develop tailored solutions for the state.

Liew said that the lack of downstream products was attributed to low demand, stringent quality control, and expectations of minimal profit margins.

She said this has affected interest in obtaining crocodile hunting licences issued by the Sabah Wildlife Department.

“It is my firm belief that by harnessing our natural resources sustainably, we can create opportunities that benefit the people of Sabah.

“I hope that these measures will not only alleviate conflicts but also open doors to new opportunities, such as tourism and the production of luxury goods, thus enhancing our local economy.

“Therefore, in the future, crocodiles will not be feared but rather appreciated by the people.

“Let us not forget the underlying goal, which is to ease human fears while ensuring the conservation of crocodiles in their natural habitat. This endeavour requires unity and collaboration,” added Liew.

Of late, there have been a growing number of crocodile attacks and sightings in the state with the most recent sighting spotted in the waters of Tunku Abdul Rahman Park.