KUCHING: The local community should be allowed to venture into crocodile skin and meat industry as one of the approaches to control the population of the reptile in Sarawak.

Minister in the Prime Minister’s Department Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said this must be carried out with control and guidance from the authorities, so that the community can participate in this industry that grosses billions of ringgit in profits globally.

“Is there any legislation and a system related to the control of crocodiles in enabling it to be traded by local residents?

“This provides returns to the local community as required by CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora),” he said in a statement yesterday, Bernama reported.

He was responding to the two recent crocodile attacks involving a five-year-old boy in Kampung Nyabut, Telaga Air, Kuching, last Saturday and a 56-year-old man in Sungai Ahong, Kampung Kangka, Lundu, last Thursday.

Wan Junaidi, who previously held the post of Natural Resources and Environment Minister, said he succeeded in removing Sarawak from Schedule One to Two of CITES during a conference in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2016, following concerns over the overpopulation of crocodiles in the state.

Schedule One of CITES includes species threatened with extinction. As such, trade of these species is permitted only in exceptional circumstances.

Wan Junaidi, who is also the Santubong MP, added that as Sarawak in Schedule Two, the authorities could catch and kill crocodiles periodically and systematically to reduce their numbers without causing extinction.

Despite the state being in Schedule Two, he said the reptile population was still out of control as attacks have taken place not only in rural but also urban areas.

“With a large number of crocodiles, it is certain that as long as there are drainage systems, rivers, and estuaries, there would be crocodiles preying,” he explained.

Following that, he urged the relevant government agencies to implement proactive and holistic measures to prevent further attacks.

“I want the authorities to take appropriate action to ensure these reptiles do not disrupt the lives of the people of Sarawak,” he said.

Wan Junaidi also expressed sympathies to the families of the two victims.