After crocodiles, M'sia looks to expand sustainable python trade

Goh Pei Pei

KUCHING: Sarawak and Sabah have been told to conduct studies on the reticulated python populations in order for the country to obtain approval from Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (Cites) to allow for legal and sustainable trading of pythons.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Sri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said the skin of the python has a great value in the European market.

“I believe the population of pythons in both state is quite sustainable, it’s just that we don’t have the figures and statistics to support the business (to trade the skin),” he said.

In the Peninsular, he said, it was recorded that there are between 800,000 to 1.2 million pythons in the forest and the oil palm plantations.

“The number does not include those in the permanent forest, so, the actual population should be higher,” he said.

Speaking to the reporters at the community leaders gathering at Kampung Tabuan Hilir here, Wan Junaidi said the country exports about 160,000 pythons from West Malaysia to China, Japan and Singapore annually.

“Besides, we are also looking into producing our own python skin products which will have a higher value instead of exports of the raw materials (the skin).

“This is a potential market that will benefit our people, especially those living in the villages. So, I hope the people from Sarawak and Sabah can get involved in the business too,” he added.

Malaysia’s proposal to allow the international trade of wild crocodiles has been approved by CITES in October last year, which downlisted saltwater crocodiles in Sarawak from Appendix I to Appendix II.