Kam­pung Sim-Sim folks con­cerned about dugongs’ safety

New Straits Times - - News / Region -

SAN­DAKAN: With peo­ple flock­ing to see the two stranded dugongs, Kam­pung SimSim res­i­dents are wor­ried over the safety of the marine mam­mals.

They are afraid that some might have bad in­ten­tions to harm the dugongs, which are listed as to­tally pro­tected species un­der the Wildlife Con­ser­va­tion En­act­ment 1997.

It was re­ported that Sabah Wildlife Depart­ment (SWD) first re­ceived a re­port that a dugong was spot­ted in the shal­low waters of the coastal vil­lage on Fri­day morn­ing.

This morn­ing, SWD di­rec­tor Au­gus­tine Tu­uga said two mam­mals were sighted there.

“Our vil­lage has be­come a hot spot in the past week since the (first) dugong’s pres­ence. This is prob­a­bly the first time the marine mam­mal ap­peared here.

“How­ever, this species only ap­pears dur­ing the high tide.

“We are wor­ried there might be some ir­re­spon­si­ble peo­ple who want to catch this an­i­mal,” said a 59-year-old vil­lager, who wanted to be known as Chu.

Au­gus­tine said wildlife of­fi­cers were mon­i­tor­ing the sit­u­a­tion as they wait for the re­search team from Univer­siti Malaysia Sabah (UMS) to ar­rive and con­duct their stud­ies to­day.

He said the depart­ment needed UMS’s help to as­sess the an­i­mals’ con­di­tion be­fore de­ter­min­ing the next course of ac­tion.

He added that un­less the dugongs were ill or in­jured, SWD planned to let them be, as they were not in im­me­di­ate dan­ger.

“(We will) let them (re­main in the waters) there.

“But (we also) worry that peo­ple may harm them, or they are ac­ci­den­tally hit by pass­ing boats,” he said, adding that SWD had called on the pub­lic not to dis­turb the dugongs.

Mean­while, state Tourism, Cul­ture and En­vi­ron­ment Min­is­ter Datuk Seri Ma­sidi Man­jun said stranded marine wildlife, such as dol­phins, nor­mally would be as­sisted back out to sea, un­less the an­i­mals were in­jured, whereby they would be nursed back to health.

Ma­sidi stressed that the pub­lic needed to be proac­tive and not “pass the buck” when it came to pro­tect­ing the species.

Listed un­der Sched­ule 1 of the En­act­ment, dugongs are in the same to­tally pro­tected cat­e­gory with Su­ma­tran rhi­noc­eros, orang utans, sun bears, pro­boscis mon­keys, clouded leop­ards as well as green tur­tles and hawks­bill tur­tles.

The rub­bish-rid­den vicin­ity of the low-cost flat in Ta­man Sun­gai Hi­jau yes­ter­day.

PIC COUR­TESY OF SAN­DAKAN WILDLIFE DEPT

The dugongs’ pres­ence in Kam­pung Sim-Sim gen­er­ated much ex­cite­ment among the peo­ple in San­dakan yes­ter­day.

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