SHAH ALAM: The fireflies in Kuala Selangor, an international tourist attraction, are dying off fast because the swamp is being polluted by illegal oil palm discharge.
It is estimated that the firefly population has dropped to only about 40%.
“Several reasons cause the depleting firefly population. River pollution and lack of snails to feed the larvae are among the contributing factors,” said Selangor state executive in charge of tourism Datuk Dr Lim Thuan Seng.
He said the swampy Sungai Selangor stretch in Kuala Selangor had been polluted by oil palm waste illegally discharged by factories in Kuala Selangor, Rawang and Batang Kali.
“The effluents affect the growth of the berembang trees where the fireflies make their homes.
“The polluted river also reduced the population of snails inhabiting there. The firefly larvae feed on these snails,” said Dr Lim at the state assembly when replying to a question from Amiruddin Setro (BN - Jeram).
Dr Lim said the state government was concerned about the situation and would take the necessary measures to address the declining number of fireflies.
There would be an in-depth study on the fireflies, as well as how best to sustain the berembang trees and keep the river healthy.
“In the meantime, the state government will plant more berembang trees.
“We are also directing the various municipal councils to strictly enforce the 'clean river' directive, including prosecuting those found to be illegally discharging effluents into the rivers,” said Dr Lim.
When asked by opposition leader Teng Chang Khim (DAP-Sungai Pinang) if the construction of the Sungai Selangor dam played a role in the firefly reduction, Dr Lim said the in-depth study would provide the information needed.
This prompted Teng to say that all the fireflies would have died while waiting for the study to be completed