The Kelantan forestry department director has denied claims that logging activities in the state are causing tigers to leave their habitat that, in turn, is affecting their population
He was commenting on allegations by various parties of widespread logging being the cause of an increase in human-wildlife conflict, especially in Gua Musang — one of the last bastions for the indigenous people and tigers.
State forestry director Abdul Khalim Abu Samah said the tiger population near the logging area was found to be growing, citing research by "an expert from Sarawak".
According to Utusan Malaysia, Abdul Khalim said logging encourages the growth of new trees, which attracts small animals such as mouse deer to come to the area. These small animals are a source of food for tigers.
"In other words, logging makes it easier for tigers to hunt their prey compared to the thick jungle," he added
As for the rate of logging in the state, Abdul Khalim said the department complies with the annual felling ration (CTT) of 3,900 hectares determined by the National Land Council, adding that it has never exceeded the figure.
Following his response to the allegations, the state forestry department director was met with even more criticism.
Environmental group Protection of the Natural Heritage of Malaysia (PEKA) president Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil told Free Malaysia Today that the Kelantan forestry director's comments about the tigers were "very irresponsible" and that only Perhilitan should issue statements on matters relating to tiger habitats.
Shariffa Sabrina also said the CTT in the state is "highly questionable and cannot be trusted" because there is no clear data available on the amount of forest that is set aside for logging by the government.
Another group, Lawyers for Animal Rights, called Abdul Khalim's statement "ridiculous" and demanded he resign from his post