Malaysia: Zoning for firefly habitats in Kampung Dew

Elween Loke The Star 7 Nov 12;

WORK is underway to gazette firefly habitats in Kampung Dew, Kuala Gula near Taiping as protected areas by early next year.

State Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman said once gazetted as protected areas, enforcement officers would be able to take action against those posing a threat to the survival of the firefly population there.

“There is a need for a survey to be carried out in the area before the state government can come up with a zoning plan.

“Hopefully, the survey can be completed fast so that I can bring up the matter to the state executive council for deliberation,” she told reporters after visiting the Sultan Azlan Shah Airport last Thursday.

The survey would be jointly conducted by the Malaysian Nature Society and Pertubuhan Kelip-Kelip Cahaya Alam Perak (KECAP).

Hamidah said the move to gazette firefly habitats in Kampung Dew was necessary to maintain its colony of fireflies.

“The population of fireflies there is fast dwindling.

“We need to protect the habitats, which are an important asset to tourism in Kampung Dew,” she added.

According to Hamidah, the cutting down of berembang trees (Sonneratia Caseoraris), a preferred habitat of fireflies, could be the cause for the decline in the winged beetles’ population.

“Once the area is zoned and gazetted, people would no longer be allowed to chop down berembang trees and clear the land for agriculture purposes,” she added.

A buffer zone of 50m between riverbanks and Sungai Kuala Sepetang would also be created to ensure that the firefly habitats were unperturbed by agriculture and shrimp-farming activities, she said.

KECAP secretary in charge of publicity Shukor Ishak said the organisation was working closely with Universiti Kebangsaan Malaysia to plant more berembang trees in the area.

“It takes about a year for the trees to grow and become a suitable habitat for the fireflies.

“For a start, we would be planting 20 berembang trees during the Fireflies Festival (Pesta Kelip-Kelip) on Nov 11,” he said, adding that more trees would be planted in stages.

Kampung Dew, according to Shukor, had to date, received about 5,000 visitors, mostly from Taiwan, Singapore and Canada.