Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Why isn't Malaysia proud of its wildlife?

Ask the average Malaysian what animals we have and he could probably say elephants and tigers and monkeys. He might even mention orang utan, although he could well be a bit vague about whether they are found in the Peninsular, or just in Borneo. Ask what type of monkeys, and many Malaysians would look at you blankly.

The other day I had to tell my 2 sisters-in-law, both over 50, that the little creature so common in all Malaysian gardens and kampungs is not a squirrel but a tree-shrew. It's not even a rodent, as squirrels are. It's active throughout the day and will even enter your house if it's quiet enough. And yet they could not distinguish it from a squirrel - didn't even know there was such a distinct creature.

Don't believe me about how clueless most Malaysians are? Look here (in Malay) for the Kosmo news page, from which I pinched the pix. Kosmo, and at least one of the daily English language newspapers, has not a clue what animal they are talking about. They speak of a Spotted Leopard cub.

And yet this is the most common of all our wild cats. It is Leopard Cat - not a Spotted Leopard (or Black Panther which is the morph of the Leopard most commonly found here in Malaysia). And it is an adult, not a cub.

That's right. These folk - who are informing the public, mind you - reckon this is a baby of the rare leopard which grows to a length of over 2 metres (7 feet) if you count the tail, and is usually black here in Malaysia. When actually it is a fully grown leopard cat, relatively common, which is a only bit bigger than a domestic puss.

In all my years in Malaysia, I have seen one leopard (see here for the encounter and a pix), and countless Leopard Cats. Go out into an oil palm estate that borders a bit of forest at night with a spot light and you practically trip over the things.

I give up.

4 comments:

Jo said...

A lot of places are the same, haven't a clue about the wildlife in their neck of the woods. Its a very sad thing.

Alex said...

Well, you can look at our science curriculum... where students study for exams, rarely knowledge. (And another thing I wanna complain is that they never teach us evolution, only in Form 6 in watered down form, but how many people ever enter Form 6?)

Anonymous said...

I think this is worse. Double edged sword/chainsaw even. Destroying habitat on one hand, trying to 'save' chimps where they don't exist.
Smathi
http://thestar.com.my/news/story.asp?file=/2008/1/31/nation/20182298&sec=nation

Anonymous said...

Destroying habitat on one hand, trying to 'save' chimps where they don't exist on the other.

Sorry the link doesn't paste properly on this. Will email you the article.
Smathi