Peninsular Malaysia Terrestrial Conservation (PMTC) covers the terrestrial region of Peninsular Malaysia, with an emphasis on the conservation of forests, wetland ecosystems and a key species, the Malayan tiger. PMTC’s priority areas are Setiu Wetlands, Ulu Muda and Fraser’s Hill and Northern Banjaran Titiwangsa.
The programme envisions for Peninsular Malaysia’s forests, wildlife and freshwater ecosystems to be valued, conserved and sustainably managed for the long-term benefits of humans and nature.
Reduced poaching threats in Belum-Temengor
Project Stampede was launched to counter widespread poaching against tigers. Its goal was to establish adequate patrol teams to comb the 340,000-hectare Belum-Temengor Forest Complex and remove it of snares. The project was officially launched on 29 July 2018 during Global Tiger Day. Under this project the teams act as eyes and ears for enforcement authorities and report poaching incidents to support enforcement operations. The presence of these teams is expected to hamper the poachers and frustrate them by continuously removing snares.
Following the launch, WWF-Malaysia increased the number of patrol teams in Belum-Temengor from three to fifteen. The effort produced promising results, reducing the number of snare encounters by 98% compared to the peak poaching year of 2017 where 127 active snares were uncovered from a foot patrol effort of 3,593 km. In comparison, only eight active snares were removed from an increased foot patrol effort spanning 10,229 km over the past year.
In September 2019 two suspected Thai poachers were arrested by the Operasi Bersepadu Khazanah team, a collaborative anti-poaching effort led by the Royal Malaysian Police and Department of Wildlife and National Parks with the assistance of other enforcement agencies and NGOs. The arrest came about after one of WWF-Malaysia’s patrol teams discovered an active snare and subsequently an active campsite set by the poachers. The team immediately relayed the information to the OBK teams and guided them to the active campsite, resulting in the arrest of the suspects.
The Setiu Wetlands Scientific Expedition
WWF-Malaysia organised a 4-day Setiu Wetlands Scientific Expedition in February 2020 jointly with the Terengganu State Park Management Council (SPMC) and supported financially by our corporate partner, CIMB Islamic. The expedition brought together 55 participants comprising experts and researchers from eight agencies and universities. Flora and fauna inventories, ecosystems assessments and a survey on edutourism potential were conducted during the expedition. This marked a major milestone as the expedition contributed significantly towards establishing an updated biodiversity database and other vital information on Setiu Wetlands. The data gathered help to form the justifications for recommending areas of high conservation value that require improved management and to potentially be included in the gazettement of the subsequent phases of the Setiu Wetlands State Park. Compilation of the research findings into a proceeding and preparations for an expedition seminar are in progress.
Celebrating the Setiu Wetlands
Subsequent to the scientific expedition, WWF-Malaysia collaborated further with SPMC by jointly organizing the Setiu Wetlands Open Day (SWOD) supported through funding by CIMB Islamic on the 7th and 8th March 2020. Numerous agencies at the Setiu district and state levels were involved in implementing the event.
SWOD represented another landmark event to celebrate Setiu Wetlands as one of Terengganu’s nature’s jewels. The event gained high level attention with the presence of the Terengganu Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri Dr Ahmad Samsuri Mokhtar which is indeed indicative of the state government’s commitment towards a sustainable future for Setiu Wetlands.
In attendance at the SWOD opening ceremony officiated by the Menteri Besar were Dato’ Mohd. Zahari Md. Azhar (Terengganu State Secretary), Tn. Hj. Mohd Sophian Abu Bakar (Setiu District Officer), Mr Ahmad Shahriman Mohd Shariff (CEO CIMB Islamic) and Madam Sophia Lim (CEO WWF-Malaysia). The importance and benefits of Setiu Wetlands were showcased through the exhibitions by various organisations and community groups.
Interactive and engaging activities held to raise awareness on Setiu Wetlands included the Wetlands Walk, plogging, mangrove tree planting, environment themed explorace and colouring contest.
The Ulu Muda Forest Reserve Hydrological Modelling Study
With the help of researchers from local universities, WWF-Malaysia recently wrapped up a 2-year hydrological modelling study in Ulu Muda Forest Reserve to better understand the significance of water catchment forests such as Ulu Muda Forest Complex (UMFC). Spanning over 106,000 hectares, Ulu Muda Forest Reserve represents 65 percent of UMFC, making it the perfect area to focus on. The study’s aim was to find out how much water the forest reserve produces and what is the extent of its water catchment area.
The study revealed that it is just as important to conserve forests where rivers originate, as it is to conserve forest immediately adjacent to the rivers themselves, as it was found that certain parts of the forest produce higher water yield than others. Another unexpected finding from the study is the high proportion of water yield from the forest reserve that goes into groundwater flow. Considering that surface water is not regularly released from Muda Dam into Muda River, the role that the forest plays in contributing to the groundwater flow downstream of the dam is predicted to be significant and should be further investigated. We hope that the study and its findings will provide further insights into Ulu Muda’s water provisioning services and guide management decisions for the conservation of the forest. We also plan to conduct a similar study in the northern portion of the forest complex to piece together a complete picture of the hydrological features of the landscape.
Wildlife Biodiversity Study via Camera Trap in the Fraser’s Hill Forest Complex
July 2019 marked the completion of the wildlife biodiversity assessment via camera trapping study in Fraser’s Hill Forest Complex. The study aimed to obtain photographic evidence of wildlife to increase our understanding of the wildlife biodiversity in the landscape.
A total of 31 species of non-volant (non-flying) mammals, nine avian species and one reptilian species were recorded throughout the three phases of the study. Among the threatened species found were binturong (bear cat), dhole, Malayan sun bear, Malayan tapir, leopard, clouded leopard, Sumatran serow and Sunda pangolin. Aside from wildlife, presence of dirt bikers, poachers, 4WD vehicles and hikers were also detected, indicating that the landscape faces poaching and encroachment threats. Based on the evidence found, reports were made and the authorities have responded speedily. Thus, management recommendations were included in the study report and we hope to continue working with the authorities and contributing findings and technical expertise to mitigate the threats faced in the landscape.