Conservationists rebut logging statement

PETALING JAYA: Conservationists have debunked a statement by the Kelantan Forestry Department that logging activities could benefit the tiger population.

Dr Mark Rayan Darmaraj, who was the lead author of the study quoted by the department, said the findings from the journal had been misinterpreted and erroneously reported.

He said although logging activities do open up the forest canopy, which causes ground vegetation to grow due to the sunlight, this did not mean it would translate into higher densities of ungulates (hoofed mammals) or tigers as it was dependent on many other factors.

“Unfortunately, the irrevocable point made from this 2009 paper about the selectively logged-over forest being important for tiger conservation and the importance of not clear-felling or converting natural forest into other land uses, including monoculture plantations, is lost,” he said.

Rayan added that his PhD research in later years found a higher density of tigers in the primary forests than logged forests despite being adjacent to one another.

“The research also showed tigers preferred using dense patches of forests, both at the ground and canopy levels, to ambush their prey.

“Hence, in such a dynamic ecosystem faced with various levels of disruptions and threats, it is not as straightforward to say that logging can help increase tiger prey, thus increasing the tiger population.

“More importantly, however, the paper clearly states that this hypothesis remains to be investigated further,” said Rayan, who is also the Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia country director.

Kelantan Forestry Department director Abdul Khalim Abu Samah recently said that after an area is deforested, new vegetation will grow, encouraging the presence of new animal species that serve as food to tigers.

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) president Dr Ahmad Ismail called on the authorities to take an integrated look at the laws and regulations related to the matter.

“All departments must come together and synchronise urgently to discuss tiger conservation.

“Research by experts is also needed for better policies,” said Ahmad.

He said a lack of knowledge had caused a wrong interpretation of the issue.

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