Wildlife in Sarawak came under protection with the passing of the Game Ordinance in 1947. This Ordinance was replaced in 1958 with the adoption of the Wild Life Protection Ordinance. Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary became the first wildlife sanctuary, established under this ordinance in 1979. Both the National Parks and Wild Life Protection ordinances have since been amended. With the amendment in 1990, a new category of protection aimed at protecting nature reserves came into force under the National Parks Ordinance.
Wildlife is an integral part of much of Sarawak's rich and diverse culture. The principal ordinance relevant to the protection, management and conservation of species of wildlife in Sarawak, the Wild Life Protection Rules 1998, lays down procedures to protect and manage species, especially against hunting, keeping them in captivity, and cruelty; it makes provision for rules to enable it to be enforced. The Sarawak Forestry Department is responsible for the administration and enforcement of the Wildlife Protection Ordinance. Thus, it is the single main agency responsible for the protection and management of wildlife and wildlife habitat in Sarawak.
Sarawak currently has three wildlife sanctuaries. They cover a total of 174,851.4 ha or 1.40% of the land area of the state. All three current sanctuaries were gazetted primarily to protect particular rare or endangered species, e.g., the proboscis monkey at Samunsam, orang-utan in Lanjak-Entimau, and the breeding site of nesting terns on the rocky islets of Pulau Tukong Ara-Banun. Access to wildlife sanctuaries is strictly limited. Nobody is allowed to enter without a written permit from the Chief Wild Life Warden. Within wildlife sanctuaries, activities which would disturb or damage the habitat, plants and animals there are severely restricted.
Swiftlet Nesting Caves
The largest complex of caves for black-nest swiftlets in Sarawak is in the Niah Caves. White-nest swiftlets occur in a number of locations, including Ulu-Baram, Ulu Kakus and Sarawak Turtle Islands. Management has concentrated mainly on the caves at Niah, due largely to their size, and the magnitude of their swiftlet populations. Other caves are also important, however, e.g. in just three localities in Ulu-Kakus, there are 15 main caves containing black-nest swiftlets, each of which has up to four sub-caves. Management of the caves used to fall under the jurisdiction of the Sarawak Museum but has now been transferred to the Forest Department. Both agencies collaborate on controlling the collection of birds' nests and on surveying the birds in Niah Caves.
Turtle Nesting Beaches
There are four species of marine turtles which nest in Sarawak, namely the green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas), hawksbill turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), olive ridley turtle (Lepidochelys olivacea) and loggerhead turtle (Careta careta). The major nesting areas are on the islands of Talang-Talang Besar, Talang-Talang Kecil , and Satang Besar. Landings also occur on the beaches of Tanjung Dato National Park, Telok Melano, Samunsam Wildlife Sanctuary, Sematan and Similajau National Park. The predominant species which nest on the main land and the islands are different: the islands are mainly important for green turtles, while the mainland is critical for olive ridley and hawksbill. Under the Wild Life Protection Ordinance 1998, all marine turtles and their eggs are totally protected.
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