Stop mining planned for Som Forest, Pahang, home to tigers, tapirs, elephants and sun bear
Som Forest in Pahang is home to 15 threatened species including the Malayan Tiger, Asian Elephant, Malayan Tapir, sun bear, and two species of leopards, among others. There are less than 200 Malayan Tiger, a subspecies found only in Peninsular Malaysia, listed as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. The forest was a permanent forest reserve till 2019 when it was degazetted thus removing its protected status. It now allows the forest to have an iron ore mining as requested by a company to the Department of the Environment.
Furthermore, Som Forest is crucial because it connects two major forest complexes, Taman Negara Pahang-Kelantan-Terengganu to the Krau Wildlife Reserve. This allows animals to move between these two forests and thus allows for mixing of the two animal populations, preventing inbreeding and its problems to long-term survival of the animals. Mining would be devastating to this movement and to the forest in general.
The Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) for the proposed mining states that “the project poses a direct risk to these species, all of which are fully protected under Malaysia’s 2010 Wildlife Conservation Act,” (WCA2010). The EIA too states that there is a salt lick less than 500m from the proposed mining site regularly visited by a big herd of elephants along with tapirs and sun bears. Salt licks are crucial to wildlife’s mineral intake and must not be disturbed according to the WCA2010.
Mining would require forest clearance and the mining operations would silt the nearby Kerak and Pahang rivers and thus impact the villages downstream. Forest clearance often worsens flooding.
We thus call upon the Department of Environment and the Pahang State Government to not allow the proposed mining project to go ahead.