‘Our wildlife matter’

Only about 40 to 50 Malayan tigers are left in the state.

ENVIRONMENT groups are urging the Perak government to make a concerted effort to protect wildlife in the state.

Following a recent report that there were fewer than 50 Malayan tigers left in Perak, these activists want the state to be more pro-active to ensure the viability of its wildlife, especially endangered species.

Kumpulan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (Kuasa) media officer Nurul Shakila Mohamad Zain said the state needs to monitor activities that were adversely affecting wildlife habitats.

“The state needs to ensure that any monoculture project is at least 200km away from the habitat of big mammals.

“The state does not seem to be bothered about monitoring these monoculture projects, ” she said when contacted.

(A monoculture plantation is an agriculture practice of producing a single crop in a farming system.)

Nurul Shakila claimed that some forest reserve areas were used for such projects even though large mammals roamed the area.

She said the longer the state government took to act, the more harm it would cause the wildlife.

“In Kelantan, the lack of effort to protect wildlife habitats has resulted in some elephants encroaching into Orang Asli villages, where they wreak havoc.

“If the Perak government chooses to keep mum over similar matters, there will be more human-wildlife conflict in the future, ” she warned.

“We also noticed a lack of conservation efforts by the government. So far, we have only see funds being allocated for tiger conservation at Royal Belum State Park but not for other animals, ” she added.

It was reported that an inventory check by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) showed that there were only about 40 to 50 Malayan tigers left in the state.

The figures were revealed by state environment committee chairman Dr Abdul Aziz Bari at the Perak State Assembly last week.

Apart from the tigers, other endangered large mammals such as elephants and gaur (seladang) were also dwindling in number. There were only between 100 and 130 elephants, and 50 to 60 gaurs recorded.

Abdul Aziz said there were also about 12 other endangered species including tapir, sun bears and panthers, residing at the three major forest reserves in the state, namely the Royal Belum, Temengor Forest Reserve and Piah Forest Reserve.

On the plus side, he added that two wildlife conservation projects were set up at Bota Kanan and a wildlife conservation centre in Sungkai.

“We also set up the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Sungkai. This rescue centre can be considered as a hospital for the wildlife and is the only rescue centre in Peninsular Malaysia, ” he said during the state assembly.

Dwindling population

Animal conservation and preservation in Malaysia recently took a hit when the last Sumatran rhino, Iman, died in captivity in Sabah, making the species extinct in the country.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman said although Perak has over one million hectares of forest land, the wildlife population in the state has dwindled over the years.

“For example, at least three wildlife species in Perak are now extinct as their habitats were destroyed.

“Two of them are rhinoceros, the Javan and Sumatran, while the other one is the Bornean bearded pig, ” he said.

“All three species used to live near damp forest areas but over the years, their habitats were destroyed to make way for development, ” he added.

Meor Razak suggested the state protect more forest land under the National Foresty Act 1984 as well as gazette certain areas under the State Park Corporation Enactment 2001.

“Right now, it is important for the state government to classify Parit Forest Reserve and Kledang Saiong Forest Reserve as forest sanctuary for wildlife under the National Forestry Act 1984 as soon as possible as these are the remaining habitats for the gibbons in the state.

“Many animals go extinct in the state not only because their habitats are destroyed but also due to illegal hunting and poaching, ” he added.

Perak Perhilitan director Yusoff Shariff said at least seven cases on illegal hunting and poaching were reported in the state in the last five years.

“We only have one case reported in 2018 and this year, we have three cases reported to date, ” he said.

When contacted, Abdul Aziz said Perak did not have any concrete plans yet to protect the wildlife in the state other than what has already been put in place.

“However, we do have the police’s General Operations Force and Perhilitan monitoring certain areas for poaching activities, ” he said.

An anti-animal poaching and smuggling effort was also launched by the Inspector-General of Police Tan Sri Abdul Hamid Bador.

In September, the Ops Bersepadu Khazanah was launched in Bidor, utilising the expertise of the Orang Asli Senoi Praaq Team that is highly skilled at tracking in the forest.

Some of these anti-poaching efforts have borne fruit. Abdul Aziz said the “Save Our Malayan Tiger” campaign, which was carried out in collaboration with various agencies including the police, led to the arrest of four Thai nationals in September and October.

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