GUA MUSANG, Jan 24 — The government has given assurances on the safety and welfare of the Orang Asli community, who have been affected by the threat of tigers in their settlements here, since December last year, said Rural Development Minister, Datuk Seri Mahdzir Khalid.

He said various initiatives had been taken by his ministry, including with the cooperation of the Orang Asli Development Department (Jakoa), the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan), local leaders and others.

“The security forces have also taken action by conducting operations to maintain security in the Orang Asli settlements affected by the tiger threat, especially in Pos Bihai, which has an estimated 305 household heads.

“Perhilitan has also set up seven traps, but no animals have been caught so far,” he told reporters after attending the Kelantan Development Authority (Kesedar) New Year mandate at the agency’s headquarters, here today.

He also added that his ministry, through Jakoa and local leaders including Galas assemblyman, Mohd Syahbuddin Hashim, also distributed food baskets to Orang Asli residents from time to time to meet their daily needs.

“It is understood that three tigers are roaming in the Pos Bihai administrative area, namely in Kampung Remau, Kampung Bujuk, Kampung Bayor, Kampung Ten’rej, Kampung Salak, Kampung Badak, Kampung Sau and Kampung Pahong. Thus far no tigers have been caught.

“In terms of the need to evacuate affected residents, it is up to Perhilitan to refer to the National Security Council (MKN) for any further action,” he said.

Meanwhile, in Kota Baru, members of the Senoi Praaq or 3rd Battalion of the General Operations Force (GOF3) in Bidor, Perak discovered new tiger footprints in Kampung Belatim, Gua Musang last Thursday.

Its commanding officer, Supt Azhar Hashim, said his team was unable to track down the tiger and believed that the animal was still roaming in the surrounding area.

“A total of 21 members of the 3rd Battalion have been deployed to Pos Bihai on January 19, to conduct daily inspections at all the trap locations, apart from patrolling in Orang Asli settlements in Kampung Pahong, Tendrik, Kesuma, Bujuk, Remai, Sau, Hak, Badak, Piyai, Kemban, Chemal, Cacoh A and B, Belatim, Dakoh and around Sekolah Kebangsaan Balar,” he told reporters, here today.

He also said that this deployment marked the first time that the Senoi Praaq was involved in the assignment, to ensure the safety of Perhilitan personnel in the operations to catch tigers in Gua Musang.

Media previously reported that the festive celebration of rice harvesting and river fishing by the Orang Asli community of the Temiar tribe, at Kampung Sau in Pos Bihai here, turned into a tragedy when a man was killed by a tiger on January 7.

Meanwhile, on January 21, residents at Pos Ber were deeply concerned when tigers were seen roaming in the area. — Bernama