KUALA SELANGOR: The construction of a mini reptile zoo, an aquarium to house mudskippers (ikan darat) and a cable car project at the Kuala Selangor Nature Park have caused concern among residents and nature lovers who believe the move will damage the natural habitat.
Work to construct the mini zoo and aquarium began last week when some trees were felled to build an access road.
A check by The Star yesterday saw an excavator digging earth near the park entrance while lorries laden with sand entered to fill earth in the access road.
There was a signboard at the entrance announcing the construction of the mini zoo and aquarium.
A resident living nearby, Mohd A. Zubir, was unhappy with the development taking place at the park and said the area should be maintained in its current state to ensure it does not affect the flora and fauna.
He said any renovation or modification should be considered only after an environmental impact assessment on the area has been done.
“This park is probably the only one in the state which draws over 150 species of birds, including migratory birds, butterflies, insects, reptiles and fish, thus we should not do anything to upset the ecology,” he said.
Mohd, who has been living there for 20 years, said the proposed cable car project could damage the habitat and lead to the migration or displacement of the birds, animals and fish.
The park, which is approximately 297ha, has a wide variety of habitats, including a secondary forest formed by a degenerating mangrove forest linking the estuary of the Selangor River and the Straits of Malacca.
Among the facilities at the park are campsites, trekking trails, bird observation areas and watch towers to enjoy the park's scenic view.
A spokesman for the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS), which manages the park together with the Kuala Selangor District Council, said they were kept in the dark about the recent developments.
“We are just as concerned as the residents who informed us that there are plans to build a nine-hole golf course adjacent to the park,” he said.
District council president Amin Jaya Mohd Din said there were no such plans.
As for the felling of trees to accommodate the building of the access road, he said it was kept to a minimum.
“The area gazetted for the mini zoo and the aquarium involves about 20ha within the park area. We have carefully planned the project to ensure there is minimum damage to the existing trees,” he said.
On the cable car project, Amin said it would not directly involve the park area but instead would run from Bukit Melawati to Bukit Belanda.
Amin said the additions to the park were sanctioned by the state government which directed the council to come up with more attractions for visitors.
State environment chairman Datuk Mokhtar Ahmad Dahlan said he would direct the district council, the Kuala Selangor District Office and the MNS to submit a comprehensive report on the modifications done to the park.
“The state government is not in favour of any move that could affect the sanctuary of the mammals, reptiles, birds and fish at the park. We will study the reports from the relevant agencies before making a decision,” he added.