Documentary on Kelantan tiger attacks to be released next month

Documentary on Kelantan tiger attacks to be released next month
Documentary on Kelantan tiger attacks to be released next month

An environmental group is set to release next month a short documentary on the tiger attacks at Orang Asli villages in Gua Musang, Kelantan.

The 30-minute documentary by NGO Persatuan Aktivis Sahabat Alam (Kuasa) will look at the potential causes for the tiger attacks, which the Orang Asli villagers have blamed on nearby deforestation that is destroying the animal's habitat.

Kuasa president Hafizudin Nasarudin said they interviewed five Orang Asli villagers from Pos Bihai. Two of them had lost their fathers to the tiger attacks.

“They told us the chronology of the tiger attacks. There have been multiple attacks, around six or seven, but outsiders do not know about it.

“We asked them what they think is causing (the tiger attacks) and most of them claim it is due to deforestation,” Hafizudin told Malaysiakini today.

Yesterday, Kuasa posted a two-minute trailer for the documentary on Twitter.

The villagers also told Kuasa that there was a lot of logging concessions in their surrounding area, most of which are clear-felling, a logging practice where most or all trees in an area are uniformly cut down.

“In Malay, we call it ‘cuci mangkuk’ (cleaning the dishes), where they clear everything and they will replant it with rubber trees for plantation purposes,” Hafizudin said.

Disturbed habitat

He added that the villagers told them that tigers have always lived in the area but they were usually afraid of humans and will actively avoid human settlements.

“But recently, villagers are confused about the tigers’ behaviour where they dare to enter the villages and even go near the houses.

“One of the villagers (we interviewed) said there is a mountainous area nearby with a lot of caves which is the tigers’ habitat.

“(The villager) said maybe that area has been disturbed, even though the mountain itself is intact but the wildlife corridor (near the mountain) may have been logged,” he added.

Hafizudin said they later captured drone footage of that mountainous area that appeared to support the villager’s claims.

Kampung Tendrik, one of the villages in Pos Bihai that experienced tiger attacks recently, is only about 1.5km away from that mountain, he added.

Kuasa intends to release the video after the Chinese New Year holiday as it is still in the editing process.

The documentary will be split into several parts, focusing on the chronology of the tiger attacks, the cause of the attacks especially the claims on logging activities and tiger poaching in the area, as well as the clear-felling to make way for forest plantation.

Forest management

The documentary will focus on the forest plantation projects in particular, as Hafizudin said this is the main reason for the forests’ destruction in Kelantan.

“We will reveal a bit about the weaknesses of the forest management policies in Kelantan, such as (the authorities) claiming the logging is in line with the quota.

“But actually it is not. Clearfelling has no quota… it is a type of logging that is not recognised by the Malaysian Timber Certification Council (MTCC),” he added.

Tiger attacks in Kelantan came under the spotlight after a Jan 7 incident in Kampung Sau, near Pos Bihai, where an Orang Asli man was mauled to death.

After the Orang Asli community in the area blamed the attack on deforestation, Kelantan Forestry Department director Abdul Khalim Abu Samah reportedly argued otherwise.

Khalim said deforested areas are actually good for tigers as it encourages vegetation growth that will attract the presence of more prey for the tigers.

However, an expert on tigers has since asserted that deforestation is bad for tigers, adding that there is a difference between deforestation and selective logging.

Kelantan Deputy Menteri Besar Mohd Amar Abdullah also acknowledged the existence of illegal logging in the state but had characterised the issue as “not serious”.