Friday, January 30, 2009

Pagar Makan Padi

It simply means "Fence Eating Paddy". A Malay proverb to depict that someone who was entrusted to protect but instead destroy what they are suppose to protect.

Long long time ago, there was a forest reserve in Penang, being declared a protected national park. Much development have taken place since. I would say, that most of the development were to cater for influx of mass tourism.

Here are some facts that are changing that park.

1. Sometime last year the park was closed after dark. This enable illegal foreigners to sneak into Penang from the west coast of the island. God knows what damages these foreigners will do to the flora and fauna.

2. Huge Tongkat Ali trees along the trail to Pantai Kerachut have mysteriously disappear. It is difficult to see large crab in the meromictic lake at Pantai Kerachut anymore. What else is missing could not be ascertained. How do they take out these trees and crabs when guards were stationed at the entrance? Pagar makan padi?

3. Foreign workers working on development projects are affecting the fauna and flora of the park. They were seen putting up mist net to catch birds and bats.

4. People who manned the park are not protecting the park as per se but merely "working for a salary". Many of the staff and rangers are from other part of the country, they are not locals. Incompentency.
I just hope that I can turn back the clock and put the park into its original status - just Pantai Acheh Forest Reserve, where the local forestry people could do a better job. Being a park really speed up its demise. Sad.

Just read this news from Bernama about the latest incident in Penang National Park.

January 29, 2009
Forest Fire Near Penang National Park

TELUK BAHANG, Jan 29 (Bernama) -- Fire, believed to have been caused by the current hot spell, spread across eight hectares of forest near the Penang National Park today.Thick smoke billowed as the raging flames which broke out about 11am, licked the forest.Twenty-six firemen in two engines from the Bagan Jermal and Teluk Bahang fire and rescue departments put out the blaze b y 6pm.Teluk Bahang fire and rescue department chief Ishak Abu Bakar said that earlier, the firemen were hampered in their efforts to put out the blaze due to lack of water supply.As a result, he said, the firemen resorted to using fire swatters to bring the fire under control in the hilly area.Ishak did not dismiss the possibility that the fire was caused by the current hot spell.-- BERNAMA

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Illegal Gaharu Activities at Bukit Mertajam

Gaharu = Agarwood = Eaglewood = Karas = Aquilaria spp

Whatever name given, its resin is very valuable. People have kill to get this resin. Citizens from our northern neighbour have entered illegally into the jungles of Northern Peninsular Malaysia to harvest gaharu. On some of our exploring trips, we saw traces of chopped gaharu trees at Belum-Temengor Rainforest Complex and Muda Forest Reserves. Sadly, not much was seen being done by our law enforcement authorities to curb them. Maybe they were too near the border?

But not this gaharu in Bukit Mertajam, Penang.

There were several gaharu trees seen in the area in mainland Penang. The exact position of the cut tree can be found at this GPS point (N5 22.369 E100 29.463).

The dead tree has just been cut less than a month. And maybe another 6 months, it will be ready for harvest. Somebody will be richer and our natural heritage will be poorer...perhaps this should be revenue for Penang State rather than illegal robbers.

Would any authority care about this illegal harvesting anymore? I doubt.

A huge gaharu tree, could be 50 ft in height could valued several thousands.

Size of the tree. Picture taken on 21 Jan 2009.

Black fungi seen on the dead wood. The darker the wood (caused by the fungi), the more value it will be.

Monday, January 26, 2009

Babi Hutan in Pensiangan

NST Online

Boar hunting made easy
By : Roy Goh

PENSIANGAN: Gone are the days when wild boar hunting meant hours of walking into deep jungle to look for the animals.

These days, all one needs are dogs, a spear and a borrowed four-wheel drive.

Murut hunter Paul Distu says finding boar meat for the table is becoming easier with the changing landscape in this far-flung constituency.

Wild boar hunts today begin from the roadside, especially with the completion of the 140km Sapulut-Kalabakan road.

The gravel road is the last part of the tarred 450km link between Kota Kinabalu and Tawau. It will be 130km shorter than the present tarred 580km link via Ranau and Sandakan.

Distu, in his 30s, said most hunters used pick-up trucks, sometimes borrowed with the promise to the owner of a share of meat, that would be driven with the dogs in the back.

"Once the dogs pick up a scent, we set up camp by the road and release them into the forest.

"If the pack find its target, they will chase it down until the prey is cornered. Once that happens, the dogs will bark continuously and we move in to spear the animal," said Distu when met by the roadside near Tataluan recently.

"If we are lucky, we catch them not too far into the bushes.

"But it is quite common these days for our dogs to wander for hours into the forest and not find anything."

Distu said the change in hunting terrain had also been brought about by the gazetting of forests as reserves.

His relative, Jack Sangau, said the Murut respected the law but reminded the authorities that hunting was not a hobby but a necessity for the community.

"Our community out here in the rural areas depends on wild meat for protein. Unlike people in urban areas, we do not have sources of protein that can be bought right off the shelf in supermarkets," said the farmer.

"What's worse is that people blame us for for the depletion of animals in the jungles.

"Our forefathers hunted for thousands of years and still the animals roamed the forests.

"The blame should lie on the loggers and planters, not us."

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Malaysia now a global hub for wildlife smuggling!

Jan 13, 2009

KUALA LUMPUR: Malaysia is ranked among the top 10 illegal wildlife smuggling hubs in the world, specialising in transporting pangolins, birds and clouded monitor lizards.

The wildlife is smuggled out of the country via air through the Kuala Lumpur International Airport and Penang International Airport, and via sea through Johor, said South-East Asia regional director of wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, Azrina Abdullah.

She said Malaysia is a transit and harvest hub for the illegal wildlife trade.

“We are among the top 10 smuggling hubs together with Manila (the Philippines), Medan (Indonesia), Singapore and the United States.

"Hanoi (Vietnam) is also catching up,” she said after attending a lecture by Bryan Christy, the author of The Lizard King: The True Crimes and Passion of the World’s Greatest Reptile Smugglers at the Academy of Sciences Malaysia on Tuesday.

During the talk, Christy touched on a chapter in his book which chronicles the dealings of a Penangite who was regarded as the “top reptile smuggler in the world.” Azrina said smuggled wildlife would end up in cooking pots in China, and pet shops in Europe and the United States.

“It is especially easy to smuggle reptiles because they are small and cold-blooded,” she said.

She explained that one could smuggle a snake by “balling it up” and tying it for long flights as it can withstand cold temperatures and survive on minimal food.

“Smugglers are also known to export dangerous wildlife species with valid papers as a front. The illegal wildlife would be placed below the legal wildlife.

“Few Customs officers would make the effort to unload the dangerous species to check what is at the bottom,” she said.

She added that some smugglers even dispensed tips to buyers on how to smuggle their new “pets” home on a long haul flight.

Azrina said Malaysia is the preferred hub because of its strategic location and low risk.

“We are right in South-East Asia and in the centre of things. The risk is also very low. If you get caught smuggling drugs, you would be hanged. But if you are caught smuggling a tiger, you are fined,” she said.

She said non-governmental organisations (NGOs) are lobbying for stricter laws under the Protection of Wildlife Act 1972 (PWA).

“The Act is outdated and there is a need for heavier penalties. We are trying to push for a minimum penalty instead of the original maximum penalty. We are also trying to increase the penalty to include a jail term as well,” she said.

Wednesday, January 07, 2009

Wildlife Smuggling Again

Two reports on wildlife smuggling in the news today. Something is still very wrong. So many questions.
Answer the questions below: -
1) Where do you think the custodians were? What happened to the authorities along the border?
(a) Sleeping (b) Corrupted (c) Accomplice (d) All above (e) No idea
2) "We try our best to curb this, but it's not an easy job.'' If it's not an easy job, you should.....
(a) Resign (b) Talk about it (c) Employ competent person (d) No idea

The Star
Jan 7, 2009
Thai police seize four tiger carcasses

PETALING JAYA: Thai Police have seized four tiger carcasses said to have been smuggled in from Malaysia, in the resort town of Hua Hin.

Bangkok Post reported on Tuesday that the Police have arrested two Thai men in connection with the smuggling.

The dead tigers, with their heads cut off, weighed 250kg and were found on Monday in a truck passing through Hua Hin in the Prachuap Kiri Khan province.

Police said the dead tigers were believed to have come from Malaysia and were being transported to China.

Bangkok Post also reported that genetic testing would be conducted on the tiger carcasses at Kasetsart University to see if they were domesticated or wild animals.

“If they were captive tigers, officials will investigate which farms they came from,” National Park, Wildlife and Plant Conservation Department chief Upai Wayupat told the daily.

In Malaysia, Department of Wildlife and National Parks enforcement director Saharudin Anan said further investigations would be carried out, particularly to determine from DNA profiling whether the tigers were from the Malaysian or Thai population.

There have been several cases in recent years of wildlife seizures in Thailand that purportedly involved animals caught from Malaysian forests.

Last January, Thai authorities thwarted an attempt to smuggle six tigers, two leopards and three clouded leopards at a village in Khub Pung, near the Laos border.

The cats, cut in half and their organs removed, were suspected to have been caught in southern Thailand or Malaysia and were bound for Vietnam and China.

In June 2006, Thai Police in Bangkok discovered illegal wildlife, including the remains of six tigers, from the cargo of an aircraft that came from the Thai-Malaysian border town of Haadyai

------------2nd News-----------

The Star
January 7, 2009
Illegal exports endanger box turtles in Malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR: The box turtle is disappearing across Malaysia because of increased illegal hunting for its meat and use in traditional Chinese medicine, wildlife activists said Wednesday.

TRAFFIC, a wildlife trade monitoring network, said in a new report that the Malayan Box Turtle "is in peril due to overexploitation'' despite a Malaysian government ban on its export since 2005.

Since the ban, export of turtles for the pet trade in Japan, Europe and the United States ceased, but TRAFFIC found widespread evidence of continuing illegal export, mainly to Hong Kong, China and to a lesser extent Singapore.

Exotic meats from wildlife are much sought after by the Chinese, who also use body parts of animals for traditional medicines including aphrodisiacs.

There is no commercial breeding of the animal in Malaysia or elsewhere because it is expensive and time-consuming.

"To meet demand, animals are being taken from the wild at an unsustainable rate, which has to be addressed or they will disappear from the Malaysian countryside,'' said Sabine Schoppe, the author of the report.

The report said a survey of stock at two traders in Selangor state found 385 box turtles in a 38-day period.

Multiplying by the number of known illegal suppliers of turtles gives a conservative estimate of almost 22,000 animals illegally exported per year from Malaysia, Schoppe said.

"Simple maths leads you to the obvious conclusion: stop the over-exploitation of Malayan Box Turtles, before we lose them,'' she said.

She said the vast majority of the illegally exported Malayan Box Turtles - distinguished by three yellow stripes on the head and a dark olive carpace - are adults.

This is especially dangerous because the species has a slow reproductive cycle and produces a limited number of eggs in its life span of 30 to 35 years. A typical adult is about 20 cms (8 inches) long.

The Asian Box Turtle, which includes a range of box turtles including the Malayan variety, was listed as vulnerable to extinction by IUCN, the International Union for Conservation of Nature, in 2000.

TRAFFIC, a joint program of IUCN and WWF, urged Malaysia to strictly implement the export ban for one generation to allow numbers to recover.

It also called for better regional cooperation in controlling illegal wildlife trade, particularly at border crossings.

Misliah Mohamed Basir, deputy director of Malaysia's wildlife department, said it was difficult to stamp out the illegal trade.

Smugglers, if even convicted, often get away with a fine.

"We try our best to curb this, but it's not an easy job,'' she said. - AP