Johor bans hunting of wildlife
By : ELIZABETH JOHN
Johor has become the first state to ban commercial hunting. ELIZABETH JOHN studies the reasons behind this move
JOHOR has banned all commercial hunting in the state.
It is the first state to do this and is pushing the Federal Government to enforce it.
And the reason for this historic move? Johor hopes to increase the prey in the parks to support the tiger population and enable it to grow 50 per cent over the next decade.
Over 2,000 hunting licences were issued for various species of wildlife in Johor in 2006, according to Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan).
These included licences to hunt tiger prey like wild boar (750 licences), barking deer (25) and sambar deer (22).
But the corporation, a statutory body that gazettes and manages parks under the state government's care, began lobbying for the ban last year.
No hunting or harvesting licences have been issued by the state Perhilitan since April, said Johor National Parks Corporation director Abu Bakar Mohamed Salleh.
And the ban stays until the state decides otherwise, confirmed Perhilitan deputy director-general I Misliah Mohd Basir.
The surprise move is also part of a larger, serious effort to collect data, train staff, beef up enforcement and curb wildlife crime in its foremost park -- the Endau-Rompin Johor National Park.
In this, the corporation is getting the help of the wildlife and forestry departments, the Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia and privately owned plantations.
In the long term, the corporation will produce a wildlife management plan for the whole of Johor, said Abu Bakar.
At present, it has begun working on two major projects in the park.
The first is the Tiger Forever project in which nine countries are participating worldwide. The project aims to increase animal population through surveys and enforcement work in the protected areas.
The second project is a survey, scheduled to begin next year, to estimate the elephant population in the area.
The survey will also help park managers identify high human-elephant conflict areas, said Abu Bakar.
This, he said, would become crucial as the state developed and brought the two into greater contact with each other.
Under this project, park staff will also undergo training in enforcement, how to track, collect data and identify high-threat zones.
More than a dozen staff and 32 local residents, including the Orang Asli, will be trained specially for the tiger project.
The projects are being jointly funded by the state, Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia and New York-based Panthera Foundation.
More than RM600,000 was spent on the projects last year and RM700,000 this year.
Some of these funds will be spent on threat analysis which will single out hot spots and help the staff focus on their intervention programmes, said Dr Melvin Gumal, who heads Wildlife Conservation Society Malaysia, which provides much of the technical expertise for these projects.
"The state is putting in a lot of time and money and making a commitment to address wildlife conservation issues. It's setting a good example for others to follow."
There are also several other areas in the country where hunting and harvesting of wildlife is not allowed.
These include Langkawi, areas surrounding the Temenggor, Kenyir and Pergau dams, the Kuala Gula bird sanctuary (Perak) and several reserves like the Ulu Muda, Hulu Terengganu and Ulu Lepar forests.
These have been "no-go" areas for hunters since the late 1980s but Johor remains the only state to impose a state-wide hunting ban.