Agarwood poachers at it again

Sorry sight: One of the felled trees along the trail.

HIKERS were alarmed to find two agarwood trees felled along the wild boar trail, about half an hour from the Moongate entrance at Penang Hill.

Veteran walker Ch’ng Kok Yeong, 68, said he and his friend became angry when they saw the two chopped trees as they were going for their hike along the trail.

“The trees looked like they had been chopped down only recently.

“One of the trees was marked F3. From the look of its trunk, it must have been a big tree and it should not have been felled since it was not blocking the route at all,” he said on Thursday.

Ch’ng said he and his friend made the discovery at about 5.15pm on Wednesday.

Penang Hash House Harriers veteran runner Gurdial Singh, 55, said the trees were prized for their wood and medicinal value.

“I know the location of the agarwood trees by heart and the marked tree was about 100ft (30.48m) in height and about 2ft (0.6m) in diameter.

“It could have been chopped down a few days ago when the area was deserted because of the heavy rain,” he said.

State Welfare, Caring Society and Environment Committee chairman Phee Boon Poh, when contacted, said officers from the Penang Forestry Department would investigate the recent case.

He said the two trees were cut using electric saws.

“We face a lot of constraints when trying to take legal action against the culprits,” he said.

“Two months ago, all we could do was to help deport 15 Vietnamese poachers arrested for possessing five kilogrammes of agarwood.

“We believe that the chopping down of the trees was done by a syndicate and our priority is to ensure the safety of the people.

“We have people who check from time to time and report but we face a lack of manpower, with only six rangers monitoring the rainforests of the whole state,” said Phee.

He also said the state had opened up more hiking routes to the public and this could act as a deterrent for illegal loggers.

“We hope the hikers using the routes can help monitor the area,” he said.

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