Kuala Belait: The Minister of Industry and Primary Resources, Pehin Orang Kaya Seri Utama Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya Begawan Mudim Dato Paduka Hj Bakar, has made a public appeal to the community that poaching in Sungai Ingei, Belait District, has to stop.
According to the minister, while illegal activities in the area have been underreported, “we have seen the harvesting of gaharu and taking of freshwater fish, not just in small amount”.
“They have also been trying to hunt and poach” said Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya, before setting off on a research expedition on faunal survey with wildlife experts and scientists as part of the second phase of the Sungai Ingei Research Project, ‘Faunal Biodiversity Survey in the Extension Zone of the Proposed Belait Basin Wildlife Sanctuary’, yesterday morning at Bukit Sawat jetty.
“This has to stop. There is nothing to prove that there is any good from poaching in this area”, he added.
Joining the research team for Sungai Ingei yesterday was The Right Honourable Gathorne Gathorne-Hardy, the 5th Earl of Cranbrook. UBD researchers are also involved in the project.
Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya further stated that phase two of the Sungai Ingei Research Project will see more research done on animals’ habitat and their survival, while the 5th Earl of Cranbrook will be focusing on invertebrates such as tarantulas, insects and dragonflies.
The minister, meanwhile, shared his concerns of giving too much exposure to this area, as it could become a place for people to poach and hunt.
“That’s why we are mindful of making it public”, he said. However, if anyone comes across any wrongdoings here then it’s important that they be the ‘eyes and ears’ so as to assist with the relevant authorities, the minister added.
Pehin Dato Seri Setia Awg Hj Yahya reaffirmed that the prospects of Sungai Ingei are indeed promising so long as “we keep the understanding and the exposure”. He further elaborated that “we have to understand the usage of the area. From then on, we hope to have a management plan. We definitely need to protect the core area of Sungai Ingei”.
Forest connectivity was highlighted in the minister’s speech during the launch of second phase of the Sungai Ingei Research Project on Wednesday. The minister then explained that part of the sustainable forest management involves having adequate forest cover for habitat support.
“For some animals, such as the clouded leopard, they need a wide area to survive. That’s why we highlight forest connectivity, because isolating areas doesn’t support many animals”.
“So we based this on the idea that this is part of the connection to the other parts of the Heart of Borneo, down at Mulu and Kalimantan. The forest cover has to be connected; otherwise it doesn’t support having good forest management. Part of it is forest cover, and second is for the habitat to be used as foraging ground”.