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Friday, 4 October 2013

Perhilitan: Species of bats in Cave Villa not under our purview

AS THE furore over bats being forced out of Cave Villa, a tourist attraction in Batu Caves rages on, there seems to be confusion on which agency has jurisdiction on the matter.

According to a Wildlife Department (Perhilitan) spokesman, they had sent a team to the area yesterday but the species living in the two caves operated by Cave Villa did not fall under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 and as such were beyond their purview.

However, Selayang Municipal Council (MPS) president Mohd Azizi Mohd Zain said Perhilitan should investigate the matter.

“The council is prepared to conduct its own investigations.

“I cannot comment on Perhilitan’s behalf but when my officers do the site inspection soon, we will invite Perhilitan,” he said.

Mohd Azizi expressed concern over the chemicals used by the pest controllers to chase away the bats, as the area is popular among Malaysians and tourists.

Selangor executive councillor for Tourism, Consumer Affairs and Environment, Elizabeth Wong was shocked that the bats were treated in this way.

“Bats play an important role in our ecosystem. Some of these bats fly as far as Hulu Selangor and other fruit orchards and help pollinate the plants.”

She said any action which might affect the environment or eco-system must be properly assessed and researched before being implemented.

The Malaysian Nature Society in a statement said bats were essential for a healthy cave eco-system.

“Perhaps the Cave Villa management lacks environmental knowledge. The Malaysian Nature Society will be pleased to provide an environmental education programme to enhance their awareness on cave management,” said its head of communications, Andrew J. Sebastian.

Cave Villa is among several structures built in the Batu Caves area. Many Hindus said some of the projects undertaken have no religious significance while environmentalists have raised concerns over the impact of development on the flora and fauna in the area.

In July, the National Heritage Department said Batu Caves did not meet the criteria to be declared a Unesco World Heritage Site.

Tags / Keywords: Environment , Central Region , batu caves , perhilitan , cave villa , bats

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