Kinta Valley’s limestone hills are a major attraction and also an economic contributor for the state of Perak. The hills and caves also support a number of animal, insect and plant species which are considered endangered. The Kanthan Hill in Chemor is a fine example.
Preserving the fragile ecological system within the caves in Kanthan Hill from destruction by quarrying activities of cement factory, Lafarge Malaysia Berhad, has been the focus of environmentalists of late.
At a press conference held at MH Hotel recently, Ipoh representatives from Lafarge Malaysia Berhad formally announced the results of a study conducted by University Malaya.
University Malaya’s study team, consisting of 13 researchers, was led by Prof Dr Rosli Hashim, Head of the Institute of Biological Sciences. The study covered a total of 150 hectares of Kanthan Hill done over a period of ten months.
According to Senior Vice President of Industrial Operations, Jim Ruxton, Lafarge would abide by the findings of the survey and would implement its recommendations. “Lafarge supports efforts to promote environmental conservation and will work with local stakeholders in ensuring this,” he told reporters.
Kanthan Hill is divided into four sections, namely Area A, Magazine Area, Area C and Area D. Area D, where the cave is located, is where the sensitive ecological system is concentrated.
The team made four recommendations, namely the establishment of an in-situ and ex-situ conservation areas, research on endemic species, awareness-creating programmes and the publication of biodiversity reports on the cave in journals and magazines. Area D, according to the researchers, should be designated a special scientific site.
The recommendations have been conveyed to the state government and a special committee has been formed to oversee quarry activities around the hill site.
“Menteri Besar, Dato’ Seri DiRaja Dr Zambry Abd Kadir has instructed the Director of Lands and Mines to head the committee and work closely with Lafarge,” said Ruxton.
Kanthan Hill, incidentally, is home to a variety of plants, insects and arthropods. The endemic trapdoor spider is a case in point. It is primarily found in the Kanthan Hill caves and nowhere else in the country.