Malaysia: As endangered fauna fall victim to motorists, minister moves to call cross-ministry meeting
By May Robertson, 28th December 2017;
After yet more deaths, Natural Resources and Environment (NRE) Minister Datuk Seri Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar has mooted a cross-ministry meeting to address the increasing number of roadkill cases involving threatened species.
In response two heart-breaking incidents on Christmas Eve that saw motorists killing a Sun Bear (Helarctos malayanus) and a Tapir (Tapirus indicus) — both on the east coast, Wan Junaidi said a collaboration involving the different ministries such as the Transport Ministry, could help address the issue once and for all.
“I will call for a meeting early next year, perhaps in January or February,” he told Malay Mail when contacted this week.
“People are responsible for these killings and they must be held accountable,” he added.
Wan Junaidi said he would also call for a meeting with the various road authorities, including the police and the Road Transport Department.
The minister stressed that drivers who disregard wildlife crossing sign boards should be heavily fined, as they risk killing an endangered or protected animal.
“There are 236 signboards up in 113 hotspots in the country to alert drivers of wildlife crossings, but it is never taken seriously, even if the animal was not endangered or protected drivers must be cautious,” he said.
Under the 11th Malaysia Plan, another 202 signboards will be placed in other hotspots nationwide.
“Right now there is no law compelling drivers to abide by these laws, but to have this be taken seriously some drastic measures must be put in place.
"Soon enough irresponsible drivers will pay for the harm they cause to nature, but the enforcement of such a law must be strict and that’s why there must firstly be a meeting to highlight the different challenges,” Wan Junaidi added.
He also said it was difficult for the ministry to fork out RM70 million for the construction of each viaduct or wildlife crossing.
“It is expensive, we do not have such funds just lying around, furthermore we must remember that we are dealing with wild animals,” he said.
“We cannot force an animal to use a crossing or viaduct, they will go where they want, we need the cooperation of various parties like highway concessionaires.”
He added that through meetings with the East Coast Rail Line project handlers, the route was redesigned to affect less wildlife habitats and that such discussion should be replicated for all projects involving the environment.
“The ministry had meetings with them last year to address the concerns of cutting through some 2000 hectares of forest,” he said.
“Eventually, the NRE was consulted and we managed to save 90 per cent of the forest from the initial route, the new route affects 200 hectares instead.”
On Sunday, a 100-kg Malayan Tapir — an endangered species — was killed by a Proton Saga that hit it at KM12 of the Gua Musang-Kuala Krai trunk road in Kelantan, before it was skinned and its snout cut off.
Later that same day, an adult Malayan Sun Bear — deemed vulnerable — was killed after it was hit by a motorcycle at Km347.5 of the East Coast Expressway 2 near the Kuala Dungun interchange in Terengganu.
Source: Malay Mail