JUNE 23 — The Hari Raya Aidilfitri celebrations are around the corner. That can only mean that hundreds of thousands of Malaysians will be thronging the roads and highways nationwide. This is part of the ‘balik kampung’ rush to celebrate festivities after a long month of fasting.
Regrettably, this rush to return to our loved ones have also claimed its first victims on the road. Aside from accidents involving motorists, casualties have come in the form of critically endangered Malaysian wildlife.
Irresponsible behaviour like driving above the regulated speed limit, tailgating and overtaking dangerously have led to many incidences of roadkill. Aside from that, the increased volume of vehicles prior to and after such festivities can prove fatal to any species that try to cross for various reasons.
Only yesterday (June 22, 2017), a Leopard (Panthera pardus) - the second largest jungle cat after the Malayan Tiger (Panthera tigris jacksoni) – was found dead close to the Sungai Yu Eco-viaduct close to Merapoh in Pahang.
In another wildlife casualty case, a baby elephant was tragically killed last week in Gerik when the driver panicked and lost control of her vehicle.
The two cases bring back unpleasant memories of the tragic death of a tigress, heavily pregnant with two cubs in Kemaman last year. In just one accident, Malaysia lost three tigers; one fertile mum and two progenies that were critical to the continuous survival of wild tigers in Malaysia.
Without a doubt, these cases highlight the need for more wildlife mitigation measures to be put in place. This is especially so with the planning of several mega transportation projects like the Kuala Lumpur-Singapore High Speed Rail (HSR), East Coast Rail Link (ECHR) and upgrading works in parts of the Central Spine Road.
Nonetheless, mitigation measures that are put in place will be for nothing if the irresponsible road behaviour of certain members of our society is to continue.
This Hari Raya, we know all Malaysians will be eager for the scrumptious food and warm embraces of our relatives at home. With that in mind, MYCAT urges all drivers to spare a thought about road safety and slow down; for the sake of you, your passengers and Malaysian wildlife. We can promise that the piping hot lemang and rendang will not be going anywhere while you make your safe journey home.
MYCAT wishes all Malaysians especially our supporters and generous donors, Selamat Hari Raya Aidilfitri, Maaf Zahir dan Batin. Please continue to report any wildlife crime to the Wildlife Crime Hotline (019-356 4194) or email [email protected].
* MYCAT is the alliance of the Malaysian Nature Society, TRAFFIC, Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia and WWF-Malaysia, supported by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia for recovery of wild tiger populations.
** This is the personal opinion of the writer or organisation and does not necessarily represent the views of Malay Mail Online.