Thirty years ago in 1963, animal lover and conservationist, Yong Kian Sen, bumped into an Indonesian selling young estuarine crocodiles (crocodylus porosus). Without much persuasion, Yong decided to add all the six reptiles to his collection of goats and other animals.
His decision was made easier because of his two sons, Marvin and Johnson, were equally keen wildlife enthusiasts. Since then, Yong family’s passion for animals has almost a legend in Sarawak.
Today they run not only Malaysia’s oldest crocodile farm but also one of the biggest which at present a collection of over thousand reptiles bred in captivity.
The farm also has a zoo which has collection of animals ranging from bear cats, macaques, porcupines, deer, civet cat, flying fox, sun bears, wild boars, an array of birds, pheasants and pythons.
The Jong’s Crocodile Farm story is what that started from a hobby. It started after the Japanese occupation in 1948 when Yong, an ambitious farmer, migrated from the riverine village of Beliong to Kuching to do business. He started a small sports shop called Fui Lip. When his business began to thrive, he looked for other pursuits.
After acquiring the first six baby crocodiles, Yong became very interested in the reptiles that he decided to breed them. He purchased another 19 baby crocodiles in 1964 bringing his total collection to 25. All the reptiles were kept in a pond in their acre-sized family property at Chawan Road in Kuching.
Sixteen years later in 1979, the Yong family acquired a two and a half acre property at Siburan, about 18 miles from Kuching. Hundreds of eggs were laid during this period but none of them hatched. It was then that Yong decided that they should visit riverine villages in Kuching to make enquiries about crocodile breeding habits. Finally the Yong had their breakthrough.
On May 30, 1981, after 18 long years, the first batch of 20 hatchlings were born. While this was happening, Johnson, his second son, spent a great deal of time and effort to continue with his private study of crocodile breeding habits.
After years of trial and error and heartaches, Johnson eventually devised his own incubator based on the nesting data he had collected. His first incubator, was crudely made from plywood in 1983. Since then there was no looking back.
At present Jong’s Farm has moved to a 25 acres property. It has 500 breeding crocodiles in bulk of the farm’s off-spring for export. Yong, also hopes his farm can play a leading role in conversation of this crocodile species.
Jong’s Crocodile Farm surrounded in the natural setting among the forest where most lived and more freely. A sight were any avid photographers should be interested to capture the ‘back to nature’ concepts of the farm.