Universiti Tun Hussein Onn Malaysia (UTHM) Department of Technology and Natural Resources lecturer Dr Muhammad Abdul Latiff Abu Bakar said: “What is more interesting is that among the species we found is the keluang (pteropus hypomelanus), or more commonly known as a fruit bat, which is black and orange, unlike the ones found in the mainland, that are fully black.
“This discovery is interesting as the fruit bat in Pulau Tinggi would sleep on coconut trees around the island.
“This is good as an ecotourism product as tourists would be able to see the bat’s natural habitat up close.”
Pulau Tinggi is located 37km from the Johor mainland in the South China Sea.
The discovery was made by a group of 15 researchers who have been working on Pulau Tinggi’s biodiversity and conservation since February.
Abdul Latiff said they discovered 16 species of bats, 30 bird species, 60 species of fish, 80 species of insects, 50 species of trees and 50 species of corals in and around the island.
The lecturer, who led the research, said their work was funded through an industry grant of RM100,000 by Shaz Resort.
The main objective is to gather all the data and document their work to build a gallery on the island.
“There has not been a thorough biodiversity research carried out at Pulai Tinggi, which is also gazetted as part of the Sultan Iskandar Marine Park by the state government,” he said.
The marine park has been identified as a flagship product in Mersing under Johor’s tourism master plan (2014-2023).
The more than 8,000ha park covers 13 islands.
It is a protected area for the preservation of its diverse habitat and marine life.
Among the islands are Pulau Tinggi, Pulau Aur, Pulau Sibu, Pulau Pemanggil, Pulau Besar and Pulau Rawa.
Abdul Latif said the research involved five public universities – UTHM, Universiti Sains Islam Malaysia, Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia, Universiti Malaysia Kelantan and Universiti Malaysia Terengganu’s Institute of Tropical Biodiversity and Sustainable Development.
An NGO from Denmark, Copenhagen Zoo’s Malaysia branch, also participated in the research, he added.
He said their research is on “Development of Nature Tourism Product Towards Sustainable Conservation of Biodiversity in Pulau Tinggi, Mersing, Johor”.
Abdul Latif said the group is expected to complete the research by the middle of next year.
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