Sarawak defends itself after flak from tourists over wildlife shelter

Matang Wildlife Centre is not a zoo but a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre and receives rescued animals from throughout Sarawak. (sarawak.attractionsinmalaysia.com pic)

KUCHING: A Sarawak minister today chided Violet Yong (DAP-Pending) for saying numerous complaints had been posted against the Matang Wildlife Centre by tourists on Trip Advisor.

Sarawak Tourism, Arts, Culture, Youth and Sports Minister Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah said the Matang Wildlife Centre was not a zoo but a wildlife rescue and rehabilitation centre, receiving rescued animals from throughout Sarawak.

He said the rescued animals were on temporary stay at the centre and once successfully rehabilitated, would be released into the wild.

“For this reason, the animal enclosures are made simple to maintain a natural wild environment look.

“Thus, we cannot compare Matang’s animal facilities with established zoos. We should instead look at the highly acclaimed wildlife rehabilitation programme that the centre provides,” he said in replying to points raised regarding his ministry at the Sarawak State Legislative Assembly here.

Abdul Karim Rahman Hamzah.

Karim (PBB-Asajaya) said a total of RM2 million had been approved under the mid-term review of the 11th Malaysia Plan to establish a wildlife holding centre in the Sibuti Wildlife Sanctuary to cater to Miri and the northern region.

Yong then urged the state government to refurbish the Matang Wildlife Centre by making it a friendlier environment for the rehabilitated animals.

Last week, Yong highlighted the negative comments on Trip Advisor, urging the state government to tackle the issue.

“The majority of the negative comments were made recently. One visitor from Australia described his visit to Matang Wildlife Park as distressing and commented that the place is ‘run down and depressing’.

“Another visitor, who claimed that he was once a volunteer at Matang Wildlife Centre for two weeks, also commented that there is a lack of funding for the centre and it has to rely on volunteers along with volunteers’ donations.”