Friday, September 25, 2009

Kinta Nature Park to be gazetted as wildlife sanctuary

Sept 25, 2009

IPOH: The Perak government will gazette the Kinta Nature Park as a wildlife sanctuary to prevent it from being destroyed by encroachment and illegal activities.

State Tourism Committee chairman Datuk Hamidah Osman said gazetting the park would not take much time as the groundwork for it had been prepared when Datuk Seri Tajol Rosli Ghazali was Perak mentri besar, and there was a file on the proposal in the state Land and Mines office.

“We will have to decide on which agency would manage the park and look into upgrading its facilities before promoting the park for tourism,” she told reporters during an inspection of the park in Batu Gajah after receiving complaints from the Perak branch of the Malaysian Nature Society (MNS).

Accompanying her were MNS Perak branch vice-chairman Lee Ping Kong, council member Tan Chin Tong and ornithologist Lim Kim Chye, who is the MNS Perak Branch Bird Group Coordinator.

“It will be a waste if such a potential tourist attraction like the park is neglected. It is said to be the best place for bird-watching in Malaysia. It is the home to more than 130 species of birds and has the largest heronry in the country on one of its islands,” she said.

It was reported in The Star on Tuesday that the park would will lose the heronry if illegal activities continued there.

Almost 60% of the birds in the park are listed as totally protected or protected under the Protection of Wild Life Act 1976.

A recent check by the MNS revealed that someone had fenced up the whole lake where the heronry, with five breeding species of 2,000 waterbirds, is located, with the intention of starting commercial fish farming.

The MNS had complained that pristine mining pools at the southern end of the park have been taken over by duck farms and that incursions by sand extraction activities have increased.

The lack of a management body had resulted in damage and disrepair to the infrastructure.

The only watchman in the park said he was only there to guard the amenities and was powerless to prevent any form of encroachment.

Hamidah said the park was managed by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan). She expressed disappointment at the amenities in the park having been vandalised and the grass not having been cut for months.

“We will like to park to be managed by the Kampar district office with Perhilitan playing a monitoring role,” she said.

Hamidah also agreed to look into a suggestion by the MNS to let the park be placed under the jurisdiction of the Perak State Parks Corporation.

She said the duck farms operating without permit would have to stop.

Hamidah added that she would talk with the Kampar District Office to stop renewing the permits for sand mining in the park.

On whether the park should be named the Royal Perak Wetlands, as proposed after the it was set up in 2001, Hamidah said the name would need consent from the Perak royal family.

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