2,130 wildlife species killed in road accidents since 2012

SEREMBAN: Some 2,130 wildlife species have been killed in road accidents in the past five years since 2012, said Deputy Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Dr Hamim Samuri.

While for the first nine months of this year, the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (Perhilitan) recorded the death of 212 wildlife species, he said.

"Most of the wildlife killed are from the endangered species such as tapirs, sun bears, elephants, mountain goats and tigers. I was told that tapirs were among the highest victims in roadkill incidents. Perhilitan records show that 43 tapirs were killed in road accidents in the last five years," he said in his opening speech at the Biodiversity Seminar 2017 here, today.

"Most of the accidents occurred because the animals were trying to cross roads or highways to find shelter, food, mates and habitats," he said, advising motorists to be careful and pay attention to wildlife crossings.

In another development, Hamim said based on the latest record of wildlife in Malaysia, the Javan rhinoceros was extinct while four other species, namely the Sumatran rhinoceros, Malayan tigers, anteater and 'banteng' (species of wild cattle) were rated as critically endangered.

He said, in addition, 12 species were listed as endangered, 14 species (vulnerable), 33 species (near threatened), 83 species (least concern) and 76 species (data deficient).

"Our wildlife faces many threats due to the depletion of habitats and roaming area because of forest clearing and land use changes. In addition to habitat loss, wildlife populations have also declined, particularly tiger and elephant species because of poaching activities and illegal wildlife trade due to high demand on the black market," he said.

Hamim, in a press conference later, said that in 2010 the Wildlife Department successfully recorded three species of Javan rhino in the country but failed to record the species this year via monitoring conducted using a variety of methods, including the installation of cameras.

"The Sumatran rhino, anteater and 'banteng' species have reduced in number compared to what it should have been ... for example, there are only two Sumatran rhinoceros left and these two are old and cannot breed, for the Malayan tigers there are only 250 left when there should have been more than 1,000," he said.

Earlier, the three-day Biodiversity Seminar 2017 which started yesterday, was attended by 118 federal and state government officials, researchers and individuals. — Bernama