Proposed Langkawi hill resort may endanger langurs’ habitat: naturalist

Primate already classified as endangered
Published on 04 Mar 2022 7:00AM
BY Ian McIntyre

Malaysian naturalist Irshad Mobarak alleged that the landowners of the hill behind the Underwater World are drawing up proposals to build a resort with bungalows and chalet units.

The dusky langur is an endangered subspecies and native to these parts of Langkawi. We should learn to coexist with the creatures instead of bringing more development.”

He has also conveyed his concerns to local authorities, including forestry and wildlife rangers, about the possible hill development.

He said there were plans to relocate the dusky langurs, but it is difficult to capture them in the wild due to their agile nature.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List of Threatened Species, the dusky langur (trachypithecus obscurus) is categorised as endangered, with a decreasing population trend.

Irshad, who is the first Malaysian naturalist to be featured on the Discovery Channel and National Geographic, said there are concerns that Pasir Tengkorak, which is on the other side of the island, may make way for development.

These are natural locations that help earn Langkawi its status as a Unesco global geopark. I hope the authorities are mindful about it.”

Generally, Irshad said Langkawi needs to do more to conserve and preserve its environment in the face of climate change and threats posed by excessive tourism activities.

He added that there are now concerns the island may lose its water catchment areas due to demanding commercial farming activities and mining of jungle resources.

“With climate change, there are no prolonged droughts. Yes, we are importing water from Perlis and Kedah undersea pipelines, but those states are also facing drought. What will happen when there is an acute shortage of fresh water supply?”

Meanwhile, Langkawi Malaysian Nature Society president Eric R. Sinnaya has views similar to Irshad, saying that the focus should be on conserving and preserving the island.

The world is coming to terms with the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic and the ill effects of climate change. I think residents here share the same sentiment. Let us focus on mitigating erosion and flash floods rather than exploiting our forests.”

Tourism industry veteran Ahmad Pishol Isahak said tourists are returning but are not spending as much as before the pandemic.

“We need to find a sustainable formula for Langkawi – a balance between nature and tourism. I think both can co-exist.” – The Vibes, March 4, 2022