By Fathol Zaman Bukhari
Majlis Daerah Kampar has been entrusted with the care of the park but it has neither the means nor the resources to take charge. And since the area comes under the district office, it exercises control over the park.
Dubbed as the largest nature park in the country covering an area of over 900 hectares, the Kinta Nature Park south of Batu Gajah, may go the way of the ‘do-do’ bird if left to the elements. The park was front cover news in Ipoh Echo Issue 101 (July 16-31, 2010). The reason behind its eminence then was the state government’s delay in gazetting it as a nature park. Commercial activities such as sand-mining and fishing threatened wildlife that inhabits the wasteland.
According to the Malaysian Nature Society it has, since the cessation of tin-mining activities in the early 1980s, attracted over 130 species of birds. One of the islands, within the cluster of 14 disused mining ponds, is home to herons and is considered as the largest heronry in the country. Almost 60 per cent of the birds found here are either totally or partially protected under the Protection of Wildlife Act 1972.
And with such a large treasure trove of birds, fish, animals, plants and, perhaps, some other curiosities waiting to be tapped, not for its commercial value but rather its aesthetic and conservation considerations, I find it perplexing that the authorities are dragging their feet.
Granted that this former mining land, after much coaxing, has been gazetted a nature park by the state government last year, the irony is that protection is virtually non-existent. Poachers are free to roam the land. Sand-mining is still rampant, despite claims to the contrary by the district office, the authority overseeing the park.
The icing on the cake is illegal fishing. The abundance of freshwater fish in the numerous ponds dotting the landscape has turned the park into a haven for “inshore fishermen” who come in droves to do justice. It is an open season for fishing, one which, if left unchecked, will have a negative effect on the park, especially Tasek Pucung, the largest of the 14 ponds.
The Kinta Nature Park is Nature’s gift to Perakeans. While other natural formations such as limestone outcrops, caves and wetlands may have lost their lustre due to overexposure, this former mining land has still plenty to offer provided, of course, steps are taken to safeguard it from exploitation by opportunists who have little or no love for Nature, let alone their own backyards.
Dato’ Hamidah Osman, executive councillor for tourism, was the force behind the drive to get the park gazetted. Majlis Daerah Kampar, has been entrusted with the care of the park but it has neither the means nor the resources to take charge. Since the area comes under the district office, it exercises control over the park but manpower and financial constraints inhibit its capacity to act expeditiously and judiciously on intruders.
In spite of all these negativities, hopes are still alive. During a recent interview with Ipoh Echo, Dato’ Hamidah Osman, fresh from her successful forays to Merlimau and Kerdau, revealed that plans are underway to secure the park.
“I’ll get some funding for JKK Kampong Pisang to protect the park,” she said. Kampong Pisang is the closest settlement to the park and employing the villagers as vigilantes is an appropriate counter-measure considering the many limitations hounding the authorities. “A sum of RM20,000 will be allocated to the village action committee for this programme,” said Hamidah, mindful of the damage incurred so far.
My fear is that Hamidah’s RM20,000 may not be enough to douse the burning desire of humans, driven by greed, to plunder a defenceless park bequeathed by God to mankind.