Tigers thriving in logged forests
KUALA TERENGGANU: Could this be a win-win situation for conservationists and loggers? A World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) survey revealed that selectively-logged forests can potentially accommodate a high population density of tigers.
A nine-month camera-trapping survey in a permanent forest reserve (PFR) in Kelantan showed an estimated density of 2.59 adult tigers per 100 square kilometres.
The forest reserve has been selectively logged since the 1970s. And apart from a single study of a primary forest in Taman Negara, between 1999 and 2001, such a high density of tigers has not been found in any other forest types in the country.
WWF-Malaysia Tiger Conservation Programme senior field biologist Mark Rayan said the survey demonstrated the importance of selective logging for tiger conservation and the need to halt the conversion of such habitats for other uses, such as commodity crops.
He said existing selectively logged forests could serve as important core tiger habitats. And with almost 85 per cent of confirmed tiger habitats located within PFRs, these sites were critical to the long-term survival of the species in Peninsular Malaysia.
"Greater emphasis should be placed on protecting and managing contiguous PFRs so the long-term viability of tiger populations... is not affected negatively through fragmentation and isolation."
But Rayan hastened to point out that the long-term response of other wildlife -- particularly arboreal animals such as birds, flying foxes and tree pangolins -- to conditions created by logging remains poorly understood.
WWF-Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said, based on the results, there was clearly a need to enhance management guidelines for PFRs