Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Kung Wen-chi (孔文吉) yesterday called on the government to stop dragging its feet on allowing Aborigines to hunt wildlife to preserve their culture.
The lawmaker, who is Atayal, told a press conference that hunting was traditional for many Aborigines, but the Wildlife Conservation Act (野生動物保育法) states that Aborigines may only hunt for traditional holiday ceremonies and rituals and that they must file an application before hunting, a process that Kung said was complicated and time-consuming and caused many Aborigines to unwittingly break the law.
“The list of wildlife animals that can be legally hunted for traditional Aborigine ceremonies comprises too few animals,” Kung said. “The Forestry Bureau should negotiate with Aborigines on adding species of animals that can be hunted legally.”
Aborigines have several festivals every year, including the Harvest Festival as well as bird or fish-hunting seasons. The large sacrifices used at such events mainly come from hunting.
Aborigines traditionally hunt wildlife such as muntjac and sambar for ceremonies. However, some individuals have been fined as much as NT$300,000 for hunting those animals, prompting complaints from Aborigines that their traditional culture was not being respected.
Kung said Aborigines hunted responsibly and that their -ancestors had taught them to let young or female animals go to preserve the environment and ensure that species can live for generations.
To address the problem, Kung and other Aborigines called for amendments to regulations that would allow them to hunt more animals.
Forestry Bureau Deputy -Director-General Lee Tao-sheng (李桃生) said the bureau acknowledged the importance of respecting Aborigine culture.
However, on the basis of ecological protection, it was impossible to open up all types of wildlife to hunting, Lee said.
The bureau said it would continue to negotiate with Aborigines and seek a consensus on the types of animals that could be hunted for traditional ceremonies.