Kota Tinggi – A Reprise Part 3 : A sad kitty interlude

July 29, 2008 at 6:19 pm | Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

After a long “hiatus” from the topic, I decided that I should continue with the fieldtrip report…

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After visiting the locality of Cryptocoryne sp. “Kota Tinggi” and C. schulzei, we headed north to  move to our last crypt destination for the day. Before that we decided to stop over near Jermaluang for lunch.

On the way to this rustic old town, we came across this :

What a gorgeous looking creature he was, alas dead, by the road. Head was squashed on one side and caked to the road. Not a pretty sight at all.  It was already mid-day and the body was also stiff as a log. But there weren’t any flies hovering around. This adult male must have been freshly dead, probably ran over during the night before while trying to make a crossing. Prionailurus bengalensis, better known as leopard cats are such a rarity to spot in the wild nowadays. Once common all over Mainland Asia from India, China and down to the tip of the Peninsula where we are situated now, wild populations have declined to a deplorable state. They are very shy nocturnal animals, often solitary making them even harder to spot, let alone track. Known as 石虎 which literally means “stone tiger” in Mandarin, they were once hunted as a delicacy in Taiwan. They have now become officially extinct on the island. Elsewhere, lost and destruction of habitat, like what’s happening in Peninsula Malaysia, has caused the same, if not greater devastation.

This was once all leopard cat country. Now it’s just miles upon miles of endless palm oil plantation. Flora and fauna alike, many organisms fall victim to the destruction of Man. There are people who are strongly against the collection of live specimens of plants and animals from the wild. Pilfering they call it, but have we, self-proclaimed masters of this land, been able to provide for and protect all that’s been left to our care. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all against senseless exploitation of nature and poaching. But sometimes I wonder which is the greater of the two evils; removing a living thing from its natural environment in attempt to keep it alive in hope to prolong its existence in the world we live in albeit not giving it a chance to fight for its own survival, or by using laws to ensue their slow and painful, but almost certain demise, as we watch together helplessly as they disappear from the wildeness, just as the wildeness disappears around them. Can conservation laws really change their fate? As we stand by the roadside and listen to the swansong of this sad leopard cat, I can’t help but think that they can’t.

 Seldom do I allow such a sense of helplessness to overcome me. As we bake under the midday sun, I could feel a chill deep within my heart. While the others get into the car, I carried the little fella into the bushes on the side of the road and said a little prayer for him. He has moved on, and so must we…

 

 

to be continued…

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