'Abdul Khalim must be thinking of his cat at home' - Kepong MP

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'Abdul Khalim must be thinking of his cat at home' - Kepong MP
'Abdul Khalim must be thinking of his cat at home' - Kepong MP

Kepong MP Lim Lip Eng has criticised Kelantan's Forestry Department director Abdul Khalim Abu Samah for the recent comments he made on the impact of deforestation on tigers.

"Khalim must be dreaming of his cat at home when he told the press that, 'based on expert research, areas that have been deforested are actually good for the tiger population'," said Lim in a statement today.

In rebuttal to this view, Lim cited The National Geographic: "Eighty percent of Earth's land animals and plants live in forests, and deforestation threatens species including the Sumatran tiger (and other animals)."

"Meanwhile, the World Wildlife Fund states, 'Tigers are found in diverse habitats: rain forests, grasslands, savannas and mangrove swamps.

"'Unfortunately, 93 percent of historical tiger lands have disappeared primarily because of expanding human activity.

"'Saving tigers means saving forests that are vital to the health of the planet'," he added.

Khalim had argued that areas that are deforested are actually good for tigers.

He claimed that after an area is deforested, new vegetation will grow, which will encourage the presence of new animal species that serve as food to tigers.

This was amid the spotlight on a recent tiger attack on an Orang Asli which the community has blamed on a loss of habitat due to logging.

Forestry Department director Abdul Khalim Abu Samah
Forestry Department director Abdul Khalim Abu Samah

'Laughing stock to the world'

Lim warned that should Khalim's views go unchallenged, the country risked being viewed as a laughing stock to the rest of the world.

"His hypothesis faces an onslaught of criticism from the public, and Malaysia will become a laughing stock to the whole world again if he is unrefuted by the government or the ministry involved.

"Khalim has only two options now. He either produces the expert research that claims deforestation is good for tiger habitat, or he retracts the claim and apologises," said Lim.

On Jan 7, an Orang Asli was mauled to death by a tiger near Pos Bihai, Gua Musang. Schools in the area were also closed amid claims of more tiger sightings.

The Orang Asli community claimed that deforestation in Gua Musang had driven the tigers closer to human settlement as they have lost their habitat.

The Kelantan government, which is reliant on logging revenue, insisted that logging had nothing to do with the tiger attack.

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