Malaysia: Wildlife crossings not enough - Mycat

LOH FOON FONG The Star 3 Aug 16;

MERAPOH: Some RM60mil has been spent on building highway underpasses for wildlife to cross at Sungai Yu, but these will be useless if the Pahang government does not stop illegal land clearing in the area, warns a conservationist.

Dr Kae Kawanishi, head of conservation for the Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat), also said that a critical 20sq km of forested state land in the Sungai Yu Tiger Corridor, should be turned into a wildlife reserve to better protect wildlife.

That’s because the land, situated between Taman Negara and the Main Range, has been cleared for illegal rubber and oil palm planting.

Dr Kae said this not only destroyed the wildlife habitats there but also put humans in conflict with wildlife, resulting in the animals being killed.

“Enforcement has to be stepped up,” she said after leading Mycat’s Citizen Action for Tigers (CAT) Walk, an anti-poaching and anti-deforestation surveillance event conducted by volunteers on Saturday.

Merapoh is near the border of Pahang and Kelantan, with Kuala Lipis 74km to the south and Gua Musang about 40km to the north.

Dr Kae said that if rubber tappers see a tiger in the morning, they would call the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan).

“Why does Perhilitan have to catch the tiger when the area is a tiger corridor?” she said, adding that out of three underpasses, two in the north could not function as eco-viaducts because the surrounding land had been cleared and wildlife was no longer detected there.

On Friday, Tengku Puteri Seri Kemala Pahang Tengku Aishah Sultan Ahmad Shah launched the Sungai Yu Reforestation Project on Global Tiger Day, on behalf of Tengku Mahkota of Pahang Tengku Abdullah.

She planted a tree under the southernmost Sungai Yu eco-viaduct, which is almost 1km long, the longest for tiger conservation in the world, as part of the ceremony.

The forest had been separated by the Kuala Lipis-Merapoh trunk road (Federal Route 8) and the tiger corridor was further threatened when the road was upgraded to a four-lane highway known as the Central Spine Road (CSR).

Dr Kae said the Sungai Yu Tiger Corridor viaduct area was about 40sq km and the bulk of it was a forest reserve, with parts of it in Taman Negara and the Tanum Forest Reserve.

“But there is about 20sq km, around 2,000ha, of state land which is not protected.

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