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Poaching of wildlife, including the Malayan Tiger, has been a longstanding issue at the Royal Belum rainforest in Gerik. which covers 290,000ha.

PETALING JAYA: THE Perak state government has pledged its full cooperation in the race to save the diminishing Malayan Tiger population.

In expressing support for the Land, Water and Natural Resources Ministry’s initiative, Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu said he welcomed the plan to transform Gerik, the district where Royal Belum rainforest is located, into a “Tiger Town”.

“Poaching of wildlife, including the Malayan Tiger, has been a longstanding issue there as it (Royal Belum) covers such a vast area (290,000ha).

“We will seek details on the Tiger Town plan with the ministry. We are looking at the big picture, which covers enforcement, eco-tourism and public awareness on wildlife protection; not just on the tiger species (per se),” he told the New Straits Times in an interview here recently.

He said wildlife conservation efforts by the authorities and non-governmental organisations (NGOs) should go hand in hand with public support.

“For instance, while we want to promote eco-tourism, we want to also ensure that it does not disturb the pristine beauty of Royal Belum, by ensuring that all visitors adhere to the regulations.

Perak Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Ahmad Faizal Azumu speaking to reporters in an interview at Sri Pentas in Petaling Jaya recently. PIC BY ASYRAF HAMZAH

“This includes applying for a permit before entering the state park to enable us to monitor (the activities there).

“We have always been supportive of conservation efforts and had agreed to provide the land for an elephant sanctuary along the East-West Highway in Gerik. I will follow up with the ministry on the progress of the project,” said Azumu.

He said on the state government’s part, it was also responsible for ensuring a balance between protecting the environment and boosting Perak’s economic growth, through sustainable logging, among other things.

It was reported that the ministry had mooted the “Tiger Town” branding of Gerik as part of its initiative to enhance public awareness and engagement with residents there.

Gerik roads were known to have been used by poachers to transport animal parts to Thailand through Jeli, Kelantan.

Minister Dr Xavier A. Jayakumar had said other efforts included a joint action force comprising the police and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) to prevent poaching and sale of protected wildlife.

He was reported as saying that creation of a joint action force was expected to be officially announced on Global Tiger Day on July 29.

It was also reported that the draft of the bill on amendments to the Wildlife Conservation Act, which sought to double the maximum fines and jail terms related to wildlife offences, was being reviewed by the Attorney-General’s Chambers.

Section 68(2) of the Act prohibits the hunting of totally protected wildlife without a special permit, and carries a fine of not less than RM100,000 and not more than RM500,000, and imprisonment for a term not exceeding five years.

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