RimbaWatch said a large stretch of the 52km-road will cut through the tiger reserve in Jerantut.
Many wild animals that are local to Malaysia such as the Malayan tiger and Malayan tapir are endangered. Despite the efforts taken to create sanctuaries and protect their habitats, these animals still face dangers from humans.
Under the IUCN Red List for Threatened Species, the Malayan tiger is classified as Critically Endangered and is protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2020.
Sadly, the local environmental group RimbaWatch discovered that the Department of Environment (DOE) has approved two Environmental Impact Assessments (EIAs) for a road which passes through the tiger reserve.
The 1,340 sq km tiger reserve, known as Rizab Harimau Diraja Al-Sultan Abdullah, is key to the survival of Malaysia’s 100 tigers.
RimbaWatch is appalled that the Department of Environment has chosen to approve environmental impact assessments (EIAs) for a road which passes through the Rizab Harimau Diraja Al-Sultan Abdullah. (1/4) pic.twitter.com/g64pnJLeRO— RimbaWatch (@RimbaWatch) June 12, 2023
Both EIAs were approved in 2022 and the content in both EIAs was not made public knowledge.
Based on RimbaWatch’s investigation, the EIAs involved the proposed stretch of road from Kampung Pasir Raja (Terengganu) to Kampung Mat Daling (Pahang).
A large stretch of the 52 km-long road will directly cut through the tiger reserve.
RimbaWatch believes there is no way the forests, including the virgin forests in Gunung Aais Forest Reserve on the Pahang side, will escape unscathed from the road project.
The majority of the road's 52km alignment passes through the Tiger Reserve. (3/4) pic.twitter.com/1Qoz47UiqZ— RimbaWatch (@RimbaWatch) June 12, 2023
Some of the potential issues from the road-building project are deforestation, impacting wildlife connectivity, and exposing endangered species to human-wildlife conflict and poaching.
RimbaWatch said tigers have already been sighted on the existing road in Ulu Tembeling.
As such, RimbaWatch urges DOE to rescind the EIA approvals immediately to protect the tigers and their habitat.
The group also wants DOE to release the contents of the EIA and related documents to the public.
What’s the significance of the road?
The 52km single-carriageway project connecting Kampung Mat Daling and Kampung Pasir Raja will reduce travel time to less than two hours.
If the road is built, the public does not need to travel for long hours on the East Coast Expressway.
According to Sinar Harian, Pahang Menteri Besar Datuk Seri Wan Rosdy Wan Ismail said in 2021 that the project, which had been on the drawing board for about a decade, would finally see the light.