THERE are plans to upgrade the Wildlife Conservation Centre (SWCC) in Sungkai into an eco-tourism centre, Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri G. Palanivel said.
He said the upgrading of the SWCC would cost about RM18mil, which would include facilities for tourists and also for conservation purposes under the 11th Malaysia Plan.
The components for the upgrade include more paddocks for animals, observation platforms, aviary, amphitheatre, treehouse, high hide, forest trails and waste water recycling system.
The SWCC was set up in the 1970s within a 2,468ha of forest reserve in Sungkai for conservation and rehabilitation of wild animals.
It currently houses the gaur (seladang), sambar deers, peafowls and pheasants.
“The animals at the SWCC need to be protected. We also need to protect other endangered animals in the country from poachers,” said Palanivel during his visit to SWCC on Tuesday.
He had earlier visited the National Wildlife Rescue Centre (NWRC), where rescued animals like tigers, sun bear and clouded leopards are kept. The NWRC is located about 3km from the SWCC,
NWRC chief Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said the wildlife rescue centre was set up last year, following a new ruling that requires such centres be separated from zoos.
“The Malacca Zoo was formerly used as a rescue centre. We were told we could not implement that here, as per the new ruling.
“The government then built the NWRC here in Sungkai,” he said, adding that the NWRC cost about RM5mil to construct.
A tiger approaching a pond for a drink at the National Wildlife Rescue Centre in Sungkai, Perak. The Government plans to spend RM18mil to expand the centre’s facilities to help promote eco-tourism in the state. — Photo by IVAN LOH
Ahmad Azhar said about 20 tigers were first brought into the NWRC for conservation and rehabilitation.
“Five of the tigers were found to be hybrids, having been cross bred with other species of tigers and sent to zoos for display,” he said, adding that the age of the tigers at the NWRC were between three and 18.
“We now have 15 pure breed Malayan Tigers here,” he said.
Ahmad Azhar said because the rescued animals at the NWRC have become used to the presence of humans, they would not be released into the wild.
“Most of these rescued animals are dependant on humans to provide them food, so they could have issues adapting to the wild.
“Only their offspring will be released after a certain age.
“We will begin a new phase for the ‘rewilding’ process for the young tigers, which includes putting them with their mothers in a confined area to allow them to familiarise themselves with the jungle surroundings,” he said, adding that the lifespan of a tiger was between 20 and 25.
“They will be transferred to another location in Pahang where they need to hunt for their own food,” said Ahmad Azhar.