Wed, 21 May 2003

Deer poaching plagues Sumbawa

MATARAM, West Nusa Tenggara: Illegal deer hunting on the West Nusa Tenggara island of Sumbawa has become worse, with venison now readily available at markets, said the provincial branch of the World Wide Fund (WWF).

Nusa Tenggara WWF program manager Tri Agung Rooswiadji said on Tuesday that the deer, a protected animal, had become a prime target for poachers.

He did not say how the illegal hunting had affected the deer population on Sumbawa, but warned they could face extinction.

"They (hunters) no longer use traditional weapons, but guns," said Tri Agung, adding that the hunt for deer had grown from a hobby into a lucrative business for poachers.

Venison, he said, was easily found in markets in Sumbawa, and visitors bought the meat as a souvenir.

Tri Agung also warned that protected birds on Sumbawa faced a similar threat from hunters, who capture and sell them as pets. -- Antara