[First posted: 2 December, 2020]
Scientists make new findings, not necessarily all good, in the iconic Batu Caves, confirming its status as a natural treasure.
FOR THE millions of tourists who thronged Batu Caves in pre-Covid-19 times, and even for the residents who live nearby, the limestone hill is known only for its colourful Hindu temple and the Thaipusam festival.
Overshadowed is the hill’s scientific importance. Batu Caves is actually the best-studied limestone hill in Southeast Asia with many valuable natural history characteristics which are threatened.
In fact, is there even anything of scientific value left to conserve? The answer is a resounding “yes” according to a recent scientific expedition.
(Photo: Collecting Epithema parvibracteatum, endemic to Batu Caves and critically endangered; Ruth Kiew is second from left; Nur Atiqah Abd Rahman is on the left. Pic by SL Wong)
Continue reading Discoveries Support Urgent Protection for Batu Caves
Planners are drafting a new plan for Fraser’s Hill, an environmentally sensitive area. How should development proceed there?
FRASER’S Hill will get a new development concept plan soon. The Raub District Council, which oversees development in Fraser’s Hill, Pahang, has appointed town planner Iktisas Planners to come up with the plan.
The consultant told Macaranga they aim to finish the concept plan in November, and declined to comment more.
The new concept plan adds a new dimension to recent events that have focused discussion on how Fraser’s Hill, an environmentally sensitive area, should be developed.
In particular, some residents and concerned citizens are opposing the building of a hotel there which has been approved by the Council.
(Photo: The iconic clock tower greets visitors to Fraser’s Hill, a destination popular for its cool weather, nature and colonial-style buildings. Pic by : Pashmina Binwani)
Continue reading How to Fit a 15-storey Hotel in Fraser’s Hill
ACCORDING to the Parliamentary schedule, the Malaysian government will table Budget 2021 in the Parliamentary meeting on 6 November.
The Budget would reflect the government’s plans to carry the country out of the pandemic woes of 2020.
Malaysians have had a troubled year. Our lives, economy and national policies were derailed by the Covid-19 pandemic and unexpected changes in the Federal government and state governments of Johor, Melaka, Kedah and Sabah.
Many conservation groups struggled to keep finances and operations running.
Amidst the turbulence, Malaysians continue to see our environment degrade: pollution of rivers and coasts; clear-felling and degazettement of forest reserves for economic activities; human-elephant conflicts; and poaching.
Continue reading What Conservationists Want In Budget 2021
In their own words, conservationists share their their struggles during the Covid-19 pandemic. Part of Macaranga‘s Taking Stock series, these stories were written based on interviews; all interviewees approved the text.
THE PANDEMIC killed everything that we had planned for this year.
We have one major source of revenue – visitors. There are other sources, of course: donations, bear adoption programmes.
But with job losses and the economy deteriorating, it has affected a lot of our supporters.
(Photo: To generate income, Wong Siew Te is offering live virtual tours of the Bornean Sun Bear Conservation Centre . Pic: BSBCC)
Continue reading “The Pandemic Killed Everything We Had Planned”
Dire finances and stunted activity continue to plague Malaysia’s conservation sector because of Covid-19. Macaranga surveys the landscape in our Taking Stock series.
FROM GAPS in research to the loss of funding and conversely, wider outreach, Malaysian conservation organisations of every size have been impacted by Covid-19.
But what exactly are these impacts? How have the organisations adapted to this crisis? And have they strengthened their resilience against future shocks?
(Photo: Educational activities involving volunteers and groups have been disrupted [Malaysian Nature Society Facebook])
Continue reading Covid-19 Woes Continue for Conservation
Sabah’s beautiful islands can be managed so that tourists, nature and local livelihoods co-exist. This is the second of a two-parter on ecotourism in Macaranga’s Taking Stock series. .
FOR YEARS now, mass tourism has been impacting the environmental health of coral islands off Sabah’s west coast. Among them is the Mantanani three-island group, located off the northwestern tip of Borneo.
But there are far fewer tourists now as the pandemic stifles travel. Some islanders are using the lull to try new businesses and better manage their environment.
(Photo: Sun, sea and surf have turned Mantanani into a major tourist draw. Pic by Reef Check Malaysia)
Continue reading Sustainable Islands in the Sun
The loss of international tourists due to the Covid-19 pandemic has shackled the ecotourism industry, but is it also bad for conservation? This is the first of a two-parter on ecotourism in Macaranga’s Taking Stock series.
TOUR GUIDE Ahmad Shah Amit had been looking forward to the summer holiday season in Europe. In any other year, European tourists, up to 1,000 a day, would flock to the wildlife-rich Kinabatangan region in Sabah.
There, they would pay locals like Ahmad, popularly know as Tapoh, to show them Bornean pygmy elephants and proboscis monkeys.
(Photo: The popularity of river safaris to catch sight of Borneo’s Big Five helps conserve wildlife. Pic by Cede Prudente)
Continue reading When Covid Resets Ecotourism
The Bajau Laut communities who live off the coast of Sabah are well-known as fisherfolk. But they have also long been traders, their lives shaping and shaped by commerce. A photo essay with images by naturalist-photographer Cede Prudente.
Continue reading Fishers For Life
Indigenous people in Malaysia and the world over isolated themselves from society to avoid Covid-19. But do they have enough food resilience to do so? Macaranga looks at the issue as part of its Taking Stock series.
WHEN MEDIA reported Orang Asli moving “back to the jungle” during the Covid-19 lockdown and blockading their villages against outsiders, the stories fed a prevailing romanticised myth that indigenous communities are self-sufficient.
But in reality, most Orang Asli cannot harvest all they need from the forest and have in addition, stopped subsistence farming. Instead, they are plugged into and rely on the modern economy for their livelihoods.
(Photo: In Pahang’s highlands, Muri a/p Jerhuk tends to her hill paddy plot. Pic by Jeffry Hassan)
Continue reading Back to the jungle? The myth of indigenous community resilience
With huge income loss during the Covid-19 crisis, is it time to look at the role that Malaysian zoos play in wildlife conservation? This is the second of the two-parter on zoos and aquaria in Macaranga’s Taking Stock series.
WITH THE Covid-19 pandemic under control, zoos and aquaria in Malaysia might have averted a funding crisis for now. However, the question remains as to why wildlife is kept captive in the first place.
By definition, a zoo is a place where captive wild animals are exhibited. It is short for ‘zoological park or garden’. Meanwhile, marine animals are exhibited in aquaria.
(Photo: Endangered animals can get a lifeline in zoos, such as these Banteng Bos javanicus in Lok Kawi Zoo, Sabah. Pic by Cede Prudente)
Continue reading Saving zoos during Covid-19 crisis – should we? (Pt 2)