Friday, 21 August 2009

Are our forests and wildlife doomed?

Friday August 21, 2009 Letters. The Star, Malaysia

IN reference to the letter by Tan Sri Salleh Mohd Nor, the President, Malaysia Nature Society “Nurture this natural treasure” (The Star, Aug 19), I wish to congratulate him and the Malaysian Nature Society for striving to protect our forests and wildlife.

I have been hiking for the last 30 years in many forest areas in Malaysia, and can thus see the severe problem of protected species of fauna, flora and wild animals being destroyed to near extinction.

I am pessimistic that anything could be done to save this situation and I believe that all our wildlife and protected species in Malaysia will be extinct within the next 30 years.

Why do I have this feeling? There is a Malay saying “Harapkan pagar, pagar makan padi”. The very authorities are involved in this illegal business as they are being used by local syndicates of wildlife traders with international links.

You can go to any orang asli village fringing the jungle and ask them who are involved in this wildlife trade. They will tell you that the poachers are paid by syndicates to trap these animals with the full knowledge of the authorities that are meant to protect these areas.

The orang asli will also tell you that Thai wildlife poachers and gaharu wood collectors pay “toll” to the very authority that is supposed to protect the forests.

It is very easy for the authority to keep tab on these poachers because there are only one or two exit points in the forest. There will be no escape for the poachers if the authorities were sincere because they can easily be caught at one of these points.

The question is, why are there no enforcement officers at critical exit points?


Kuala Lumpur.