China’s rising demand for durians is threatening endangered tigers and water supply in Malaysian town: Report

Pahang Forestry Department confirmed the land was being cleared for musang king farming.
Singapore Press Holdings

To satisfy the rising demand for durians in China, land in Malaysia is being cleared out and foliage is being burnt to make space for durian farming, The Star has reported.

According to the report, unhappy residents in Fraser’s Hill, about 8km from Raub, have spotted clearing and open burning activities on a hilltop in the Hulu Sempam area.

The 404ha plot bordering the Batu Talam Forest Reserve is being cleared for the farming of musang king durians, the report said.

The Star added that the 404ha land being cleared is only a portion of the final 1,213ha of land that will be used to farm durians.

A logging licence has also been awarded for another piece of land adjacent to the area being cleared for durian farming.

Malayan tiger threatened

The surrounding areas are marked as a confirmed habitat for the critically endangered Malayan tiger, of which there is less than 300 in the wild.

According to The Star, Pahang Forestry Department’s director Datuk Mohd Hizamri Mohd Yasin confirmed the area was being cleared for musang king farming by a state government entity.

“The project on that site does not need permission from the Forestry Department.

“The project is owned by the Perbadanan Setiausaha Kerajaan (a state-linked company),” he was quoted as saying.

Dr Mohd Hizamri also disclosed that another nearby plot measuring 161.88ha  had been issued a logging license.

However, he insisted that both plots of land involved were outside the forest reserve and the water catchment area, The Star said.

According to environmental group Peka, the degazettement of the land was legal, and a second phase will see 809ha being cleared.

Water cuts

Residents in Raub, which sits less tha two hours away from Kuala Lumpur, have also had to deal with their own set of problems including traffic jams and a strain on the water supply.

The town is famous for its musang king durian, and the durian boom has made water cuts a daily encounter for some.

One resident was quoted by The Star as saying that there have been problems at the local water treatment plant, while another said that water supply is sometimes affected for up to two days.

Deputy Water, Land and Natural Resources Minister, Tengku Zulpuri told the Malaysian daily that he had arranged for 20 static tanks to be placed in critical areas as an interim measure.

“The total solution has to come from the state government,” he was quoted as saying.