enarjamsptes

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PETALING JAYA: A group of 11 conservation bodies are voicing concern over the future of the Ulu Muda Reserve in Kedah as a wildlife refuge following the recent discovery of poaching activities.

The group said it was clear that poaching and encroachment activities were present in the area, one of only two places in peninsular Malaysia where the spotted leopard could be found.

“Based on studies, poaching can be facilitated by easy access into forests via roads, including logging roads, and this needs to be curbed by immediate attention and intensifying enforcement efforts.

“Failure to do so can lead to localised extinction of many rare and endemic species, the loss of wildlife based eco-tourism and ultimately may result in disrupting the whole balance of the ecosystem services these forests provide,” it said in a joint statement yesterday.

The group, which included WWF-Malaysia, the Malaysian Nature Society from Kedah, Penang and Langkawi, Water Watch Penang, Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam (Peka) and Treat Every Environment Special (TrEES), is responding to poaching activities discovered by the Wildlife Conservation Research Unit (WildCRU) from Oxford University.

WildCRU had come across evidence of poaching during their recent 18-month study on clouded leopards in the reserve.

“It is also a water catchment area of national significance,” the group said, adding that it also supplied water to industries and rice fields.

It was recently reported in The Star that a new trail of timber lorries had been found, believed to be in use since early this year. Logging is legal.