Wednesday, February 29, 2012

The End of Shark Feeding At Pulau Payar?

Yes! I have heard this very loud and clear from one of snorkeling and diving operators at Pulau Payar Marine Park, Langkawi. And this operator are the good guys out there and the best at Pulau Payar Marine Park.

I met the owner of this company recently and he was very happy to tell me that all sorts of nonsense feeding is now banned at Pulau Payar. And of course, I am happy to hear this indeed though I have yet to see any written statement from the Jabatan Taman Laut (Marine Parks Department).

While I was at the Kuah Jetty this evening, I found this outdated billboard by the bus parking lot. It shows a Black-Tipped Reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) was going straight for the food handed out by the guide in the wet suit (center of the family).

To the authorities here, you can tear this billboard down now as it is no longer valid.

And tourists being tourists, shark feeding is a fun thing to watch yet not realising the hidden risks to themselves and also the negative impact of the feeding to the ecosystem. Report on Shark Attack in Pulau Payar here 

Alas, a great news indeed for Pulau Payar Marine Park! Should you spot any visitors or even the operators themselves are feeding the sharks, please report to the Jabatan Taman Laut (Marine Parks Department) based on the island. If your complains have fallen on the deaf ears, please take pictures and email them to me. Even better if you can snap pictures first before making a complaint. 


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Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Run Wildlife Run!

Snakes! Tigers! Lizards! Pangolins! Bears! 
Calling all wildlife in the forest! Run for your lives!
For the wildlife Kingpin is freed - again...

Old habits are hard to die
For the hunting and trading will resume

Wildlife trader Anson Wong freed

February 22, 2012
PUTRAJAYA, Feb 22 — Anson Wong Keng Liang is a free man today after the Court of Appeal here allowed his appeal to reduce the jail sentence handed down to him for illegally exporting boa constrictor snakes without a permit, Bernama Online reported today.
The news portal also reported that Justice Datuk Wira Low Hop Bing, chairing a three-member panel, reduced the wildlife trader’s jail term from five years to 17-and-a-half months.
The panel held that the revised jail term, which Wong served from September 7, 2010 until today, would serve the interests of justice.
The court allowed Wong’s appeal to set aside a Shah Alam High Court decision to increase his jail term from six months, as imposed by the Magistrate’s Court, to five years.
Justice Low said when increasing his jail term, the High Court had erroneously put certain facts under consideration such as the alleged torture endured by 95 boa constrictors after they were placed a small bag together.
He said the High Court judge had also erroneously considered two venomous rhinoceros viper snakes, which were found in Wong’s bag but not stated in the charge against him as well as the allegation he was keen on profiting from his venture.
Bernama reported Low as saying the charge against Wong was one of exporting the boa constrictors without a permit. As a result, all other considerations fall outside the ambit of the charge which warranted the Court of Appeal’s intervention.
He also said the High Court did not make any reference to Wong’s guilty plea.
The panel also affirmed the High Court’s decision in setting aside the RM190,000 fine imposed on Wong by the Sepang Sessions Court as it exceeds the maximum RM10,000 fine which the Sessions Court can legally impose.
In January, the 53-year-old trader obtained leave from the Court of Appeal to appeal against the decision of the High Court in November 2011 which had increased his jail term from six months to five years.
In September 2011, the Sepang Magistrate’s Court sentenced Wong to six months’ jail and fined him RM190,000 after he pleaded guilty to illegally exporting the endangered species without a permit at the Kuala Lumpur International Airport (KLIA) in Sepang at 8.50pm on August 26, 2011.
Wong was in KLIA on transit from Penang to Jakarta when the snakes were found in his suitcase.
The High Court imposed the five-year jail term on Wong after allowing the prosecution’s appeal for a heavier sentence. The court, however, set aside the RM190,000 fine.


Wildlife conservationists will know who this Kingpin is. Sadly, Malaysia has a reputation of being a hub for illegal wildlife trading (Report dated August 10th, 2009 from theStar: Malaysia is a hub for a multi-billion-ringgit global trade in illegal wildlife)

How Malaysia can stand as a nation that will fight for wildlife conservation and against illegal wildlife trading? 

More links to stories on this kingpin:

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Monday, February 6, 2012

Can Langkawi Retain Her Spot As The Top 10 Beaches In The World?

The National Geographic reported that Langkawi was at No. 9 as the top 10 beaches in the world last year. What about now? National Geographic Top 10 Beaches link here

Thank goodness that our local newspaper has finally revealed the real happenings in Langkawi. This is a stern calling for the authorities here to buckle up, get back to work and less patronising to the local "teh-tarik" stalls during their work hours. 

This article below was written by Sharanjit Singh of New Straits Times.  It is very rare that our big local newspaper company would publish such a thing.  Bravo Sharanjit!

Let's hope Sharanjit will also touch on Langkawi's wildlife killings/poaching and illegal deforestation. From now on, we shall see if the authorities here will response to this.

Watersport
THE authorities may like to think of it as "Langkawi Permata Kedah" (Langkawi the pearl of Kedah), but the goings-on at some of the major attractions on the island are putting off visitors.
Even the people involved in the tourism sector have voiced concern that the island's allure as a premier destination was going downhill as reflected in the many negative comments posted on tripadvisor.com.

(Tripadvisor.com is a premier travel review website which many tourists refer to before deciding on their holiday destinations.)

Langkawi's reputation has been further dented following the recent brutal attack on an elderly German couple as they were taking a leisurely stroll along the main road of Pantai Tengah.

The couple was attacked at a dark spot along the main road and locals here claimed the street lights in the area had been out of order for several weeks.

"This is among the main tourism spots on the island and yet the authorities seem to be really laid back in maintaining even the most basic of public amenities like street lighting.

"The attack on the German couple may have been an isolated incident, but one can only imagine the kind of negative press the island is going to get when the news hits the travel community," a local restauranteur, who declined to be named, said.
Over at Pantai Cenang on the west coast of Langkawi, the once serene and picturesque spot has been turned into a "beachfront highway". Watersport operators and beachboys can be seen driving their four-wheel drive vehicles and motorcycles, zooming back and forth towing jetskis and other watersports equipment all day long.

"It is like this every day, the 4WD vehicles and motorcycles are driven recklessly with little regard to those enjoying a lazy day at the beach.

"We have complained to the local authorities about what is happening here many times but everybody seems to be oblivious to it all," said a motel operator at Pantai Cenang.

 A Swiss visitor, who wished to be identified as Marcus, said he and his wife were baffled how such vehicles could be allowed to turn the beachfront into their private highway.

"I have travelled extensively, but this is the first time I am seeing such a thing happening right on the beach," he said.

Among comments posted on tripadvisor about the goings-on at Pantai Cenang, included one from an Australian tourist who said: "A friend of mine stayed there back in October and was not impressed.

"He mentioned the fact that the beach in front had many 4WD driving along it and that it was quite noisy."

Langkawi Tourism Association deputy chairman Pishol Ishak said it was obvious that the beachfront should be free of all the "nonsense".
However, he said, the authorities seem to be turning a blind eye to the blatant disregard to safety and encroachment of vehicles onto the beachfront.

"It is obvious they don't seem to care what is going on. This can only be a bad thing for us all," he said.



Story of the attack of elderly German couple here: Let's Keep Langkawi Magical

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