By ISABELLE LAI
Tuesday February 21, 2012
PETALING JAYA: The Government has allocated RM170mil to build wildlife-friendly viaducts that are vital in linking fragmented tiger populations and reducing conflict with humans, said Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Tan Sri Joseph Kurup.
He said these included viaducts along the East-West Highway in Perak costing RM60mil in addition to earlier approved projects in Terengganu and Pahang costing RM110mil.
The viaducts will allow safe passage across highways for wildlife, including tigers and elephants, between conservation corridors such as the Greater Taman Negara and Belum-Temengor Priority Tiger Landscape.
“This is an ambitious yet strong commitment from the Government to strive to double the wild tiger population by 2022,” he said in his speech before launching the Cross-Sectoral Executive Leadership Forum on Mainstreaming Tiger Habitats here yesterday.
Despite the high cost, Kurup said it was possible to build these viaducts through early intervention during the planning stage of infrastructure development.
He said Malaysia would continue to ensure tiger conservation efforts were part of mainstream state and district-level programmes through its Central Forest Spine master plan and National Tiger Conservation Action Plan.
Malaysia was one of 13 countries that took part in the International Tiger Summit in 2010 in St Petersburg, Russia, to address the threat of tiger extinction and highlight the animals as the face of biodiversity.
Keshav Varma, the World Bank programme director for the Global Tiger Initiative, said the Malaysian Government had been “extremely forward-looking” in finding a balance between using its natural resources and protecting wildlife, including accommodating the needs of tigers and other species amid development.
“If the Malaysian model is adopted, the future prospects for tigers and other species could improve markedly,” he said.
Smithsonian Conservation Biology Institute director Steven Montfort said tiger conservation could be achieved by working together with all parties involved.