Malaysia: More wildlife encounters

Hidir Reduan New Straits Times 3 Oct 12;

'URBAN' ANIMALS: Wandering into human settlements due to rapid development

KUANTAN: INCIDENCES of public encounters with wild animals are becoming more regular in Pahang nowadays.

With rapid development squeezing forest buffer zones, more wildlife including monkey, tapir, elephant and crocodile are straying into human settlements.

Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) recorded 864 wild animal encounters last year compared with 695 reports in 2010.

Between January and August this year, 436 cases were recorded in the state.

State Perhilitan director Khairiah Mohd Sharif said animals entered human settlements and plantations when their natural food sources in the forest had dwindled.

In June last year, she said a 350kg tapir fell and became stuck in a drain in Taman Kempadang Perdana here. It was rescued and later released into the nearby jungle.

In June this year, a 50kg wild boar created havoc when it came into town. It was later shot dead by a Perhilitan officer.

More recently was the sighting of a sun bear in Kampung Pandan 2 here which caused panic among villagers, prompting the department to set a trap.

Malaysian Nature Society president Professor Dr Maketab Mohamed said the authorities needed to manage rapid development which would help to preserve the wildlife's natural habitat.

Wildlife biologist based in Sandakan, Wong Siew Te said deforestation and new human settlements often forced these animals to come out in search of food.

The 43-year-old sun bear expert said wild mammals like the sun bear were extremely shy and would run away from the slightest noise caused by human activities.

"In the United States and Japan, sun bears have emerged from their natural habitat to scavenge for food in human settlements."