“Stop encroaching national parks which are home to unique animals and plants”

Maludam is home to less than 400 red banded langur. © Jason Hon

KUCHING, July 30: World Wide Fund for Nature Malaysia (WWF-Malaysia) is calling on local authorities to thoroughly investigate the recent illegal logging operations in Maludam National Park.

WWF-Malaysia’s Sarawak Conservation Programme head Dr Jason Hon asserted the authorities must trace where the illegal logs and timbers were destined for, so that masterminds behind these illegal operations can also be brought to court for justice.

Lauding the successful operations which resulted in the arrest of 10 suspects, Hon highlighted Maludam National Park was gazetted as a Totally Protected Area in 2000 and was extended in 2015.

“This national park is the largest protected peat swamp forest in Sarawak, covering 53,568ha. It is unique because it is home to the only known population of red banded langur, estimated at less than 400, based on a survey done in 2006,” he pointed out in a press statement today.

Maludam National Park also contains healthy populations of other primate species such as the proboscis monkey and silvered langur, as well as all six phasic communities of peat swamp vegetation.

“The national park is a catchment that supplies freshwater to the coastal Maludam community. As such, we cannot allow our natural heritage to be desecrated by unscrupulous individuals,” Hon added.

In congratulating Sarawak Forestry Corporation (SFC), the 10th Battalion General Operation Force (GOF) and Malaysian Anti-Corruption Commission (MACC) for a job well done, WWF-Malaysia opined that the state cannot afford to continue to lose her natural heritage.

Hon also urged the public to do their part in protecting the state’s natural heritage by sharing information through SFC’s hotline.

Maludam National Park is important for biodiversity conservation and the local community who lives surrounding the park. © WWF-Malaysia

Earlier today, SFC uploaded a post on its Facebook page highlighting that 10 suspects were nabbed for encroaching Maludam National Park.

SFC, GOF and MACC carried out patrols under Operasi Bersepadu Khazanah at Maludam National Park from July 24 to 28.

It was reported that on July 25, around 10am, the team arrested eight suspects red-handed with seven chainsaws and 347 logs of different sizes and species.

Eight bicycles and nine motorbikes that were used to transport logs were also seized.

Later, the enforcement team caught two more suspects in possession of chainsaws, two bicycles and motorbikes.

The enforcement agencies also found 45 more logs in the park. These cases were handed over to Forest Department Sarawak for their investigation.

SFC’s social media post also quoted SFC chief executive officer Zolkipli Mohamad Aton, who is also the Controller of National Parks and Nature Reserves as saying five police reports had been made, and the 10 suspects are currently on police bail.

The suspects would be investigated under the National Parks and Nature Reserves Ordinance 1998.

“We will not tolerate any trespassing, hunting and encroachment into the Totally Protected Areas and those caught will be brought to justice,” Zolkipli added.

Members of the public with information on similar illegal activities are urged to contact SFC hotlines at 016-8565564/019-8859996 (Kuching), 019-8883561 (Sibu), 019-8223449/019-8332737 (Bintulu) and 019-8290994/018-9799778 (Miri). — DayakDaily