‘Poachers threatening Belait’s eco-tourism bid’

National 1 minute, 42 seconds

BELAIT

POACHING activities might hinder Belait’s attempt to become an eco-tourism hotspot in the country, said a member of the Panaga Nature Society (PNHS).

Poaching has resulted in the decline of exotic animals in the district over the years.

Belait, according to the PNHS, is one of the remaining homes for rare and exotic animals in Borneo.

Treasurer Susan Sharpe listed gibbons, flying lemurs, clouded leopards and hornbills as some of the endangered animals.

At the moment, Sharpe claimed that some of these animals have sought refuge in other areas, particularly at residential ones, after losing their natural habitats to fire and other development activities.

Sharpe said that it is also common sight to see traps set up at the natural homes of these animals.

Sharpe, who has a decade of experience in the matter, pointed out that she has observed increased poaching activities in the past four to five years, adding that she had interacted with poachers during one of her visits to the forests.

“I was in a group of eight people at the time when we saw some bird cages and a net set up in the forest here in Belait... and there were songbirds being trapped there,” she said.

“We took the cages and the net down, and then two persons came to us, upset over our actions as they claimed the birds they have trapped were for business purposes,” she said, claiming the two poachers to be locals.

“Another upsetting experience was finding dead birds lying beneath a net. (This shows) that the alleged poachers did not even bother to check on them after setting up their traps,” said the nature lover.

Steve Brown, the current chairperson of PNHS, who is also a Geologist by profession, said that something has to be done as poachers are still able to move around freely, snatching animals from their habitats.

Brown said that the Bruneian government should step up their efforts in curbing the poaching situation in the district as this may harm Brunei’s eco-tourism industry.

The Brunei Times