WWF: Animals among casualties in forest fires


  • Nation
  • Sunday, 27 Feb 2005

BY OLIVIA LEE

PETALING JAYA: Burrowing animals like pangolins and porcupines and slow-moving animals like tortoises are likely to become casualties of forest fires. 

WWF-Malaysia national programme director Dr Dionysius Sharma said animals that lived underground would remain there during a fire because of the hot surface.  

“Eventually, they suffocate from smoke inhalation or die from heat build-up,” he said in an interview here. 

Thick smoke, he added, would also disorientate and limit the movement of animals due to low visibility level. 

On how animals would adapt to charred lands after a fire, Dr Dionysius said these open areas would be avoided because tropical rainforest animals prefer their habitat to be dark and moist. 

“Fires ravage habitats and would take a long time to recover. Nature will take its course but it’ll need some human intervention like replanting of trees,” he said. 

Although the weather could not be controlled, fires could be prevented from spreading, he added. 

“Digging trenches, having mobile fireproof vehicles with better-trained and equipped people are just some of the methods,” he added.  

Wildlife and National Parks Department deputy director-general Abd Rashid Samsudin said he would wait for a full report on the damage before commenting.  

In Kuala Selangor, XANDRIA OOI reports that residents here are worried that raging fires in the jungles of nearby Batang Berjuntai, just about 15km away, could affect the fireflies.  

Fireflies are a major attraction here but their numbers could deplete if thick smoke from the forest flames envelopes their colonies along the marshy coasts here. 

A staff at the Kuala Selangor Firefly Park Resort said, however, the glowing insects were still coming out in their usual numbers and the effects of the fire could probably show in the next few days.  

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