Monday, November 13, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Halt Logging In Vicinity of Forest Reserves




It is with grave concern that environmentalists and conscientious citizens read how state and forestry authorities rationalise logging activities in Batu Yon and land surrounding the  Merapoh Forest Reserve in the Kuala Lipis area by claiming that the logging is carried out in land owned by the Agriculture Industrial Development Board (LKPP) and not directly on the forest reserve land.


The Merapoh forest, estimated to be 130 million years old, is home to endangered species which include elephants, tigers, tapirs, sun bears and deer, as well as rare flora such as the rafflesia. Its spectacular limestone caves form a vital part of Malaysia’s natural heritage. All of these natural wonders are now under threat as a result of logging and roadworks in their vicinity.


The fact remains that agricultural land bordering gazetted forest reserves are still critical water catchment areas and wildlife habitats. It is overly simplistic to claim that agricultural, recreational or rural residential areas bordering forest reserves are fair game for logging and development since they do not constitute the forest reserve land proper.


Opening up logging roads into areas surrounding forest reserves has knock-on effects and can and do affect the forest reserve area adversely. Statistical evidence has shown that logging roads everywhere from Russia to Central Africa and Southeast Asia have increased access for poachers and hunters into sensitive wildlife habitats and also increased the incidence of human-wildlife conflict and roadkill.


In fact, timber companies operating in areas such as the Primorsky Krai in Russia where serious decline in wildlife populations has been recorded since the opening up of logging roads are under great pressure to close up logging roads and carry out mitigation measures. Sadly, here in Southeast Asia where up to 48% of all native mammal species are predicted to be extinct by 2100, roads continue to be opened up for logging and mining or for ‘transporting forest products’, despite the irrefutable data that forested land is worth much more intact than when depleted, logged or converted into plantations. The economic benefits of logging are short-lived and can sustain only 1-2 generations at most.  


Not only are the Merapoh Caves a sensitive wildlife habitat, they are also an important ecotourism site. Logging and deforestation in the areas surrounding the Merapoh Caves will have a severe negative impact on the rural communities whose livelihood depend on ecotourism and subsistence farming and fishing in areas that are now polluted, depleted and exposed.


Apart from the threat it poses to wildlife populations, logging and deforestation also affect air quality, climate and water cycle patterns. Healthy forests absorb solar energy and release water vapour, while forest clearing releases stored carbon dioxide, which traps heat and contributes to atmospheric warming. The destruction of watershed areas will result in more flash floods, landslides and drought, thus costing the State and Federal Governments more in disaster management and mitigation than they are able to benefit from issuing permits for logging, mining and agricultural activities.    


The growing number of environmental and citizens’ action groups in Malaysia calling for an end to deforestation and for the protection of the Merapoh Caves and forest reserve attests to the growing awareness of our interconnectedness with our natural environment and the importance of forests for the ecosystem services they provide. It is not merely fear for the loss of income from trekking and ecotourism activities that motivates concerned citizens to speak up. The Merapoh Caves and forest reserve were here long before the existence of humans. We cannot afford to lose any more of it in our age of collapsing ecosystems and anthropogenic disasters.








Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Explore Alternatives to Tree-Felling




As a Petaling Jaya resident, I am dismayed that the Petaling Jaya City Council (MBPJ) has made the decision to cut down over 1,100 trees for the construction of the Damansara-Shah Alam Highway (DASH).


Petaling Jaya residents were previously informed that only 160 trees were identified for felling to make way for the highway construction project. On 10th April 2017, the MBPJ confirmed that 1,100 trees of varying sizes will be felled for the highway project. Concerns are now raised as to the final number of trees already felled and to be felled, the basis for the increase in the number of trees felled, how the earlier evaluation had been made and why the earlier number could not be adhered to, and who stands to benefit from the felling of the trees.


Despite the fact that the highway developer Prolintas is required to replant two trees for every tree felled, it is submitted that these tree-planting efforts have only limited potential to reduce carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere, compared to if mature trees were left intact and protected against disease and felling. The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) averred in a special report in 2000 that tree-planting initiatives could sequester only around 1.1 to 1.6 gigatonnes of carbon dioxide (CO2) a year. Global greenhouse gas emissions, on the other hand, were equivalent to 50 gigatonnes of CO2 in 2004. Although replanting and tree-planting initiatives are better than no climate change mitigation efforts at all, the carbon sequestered through replanting is almost negligible.


Further, as concerned citizens, we would like to know where the developer and MBPJ propose to replant these 2,200 trees, the variety and species of trees to be planted, whether the tree-planting sites chosen will be afforded protection against land-clearing and future development projects, and what level of care these new trees are expected to receive to ensure their survival. Merely putting saplings into soil does not constitute reforestation and climate change mitigation efforts. A tree will only begin to be effective in absorbing CO2 in its 10th year. A 25-year-old tree will be able to absorb approximately 0.0011 tonnes of CO2 over a year. Over 25 years, we would need 36 trees to offset just one tonne of CO2. Disease, deforestation and reclamation of land for development will have an impact on whether a tree survives for 50 years and beyond.


The DASH project was proposed as a solution to traffic congestion in the Damansara area. However, any good it proposes to effect by reducing traffic volume and travel distance is invalidated by the destruction and damage to the environment caused in its construction. Urban trees play a vital role in temperature regulation, floodwater and stormwater absorption and pollution reduction, among others. Urban tree canopies provide shade, oxygen, habitats for birds and wildlife and recreational spaces for people. Felling mature trees and then pledging to ‘replace’ them is not the right approach. One cannot simply ‘replace’ a mature tree that has been providing oxygen and other ecological services. In addition, the felling of trees goes against the National Landscape Policy and defeats the purpose of tree-planting and urban renewal campaigns.


The developer and MBPJ should look into the possibility of realigning the highway construction plans to minimise damage to the environment and reduce the number of trees to be felled, and of relocating and transplanting the smaller and younger trees. It is clear that despite the wishes of the public and the concerns of environmental organisations, the developer and Selangor State Government fully intend to press ahead with the construction of the DASH Highway. It is thus incumbent upon the developer and State Government to take all measures necessary to protect, preserve and retain the existing trees and to reduce the environmental impact of the DASH Highway project.












Eco Kids Column, Sept 2017: Alternatives to Disposable Cutlery and Plastic Straws

We all know that disposable items, be it diapers, party ware, straws, paper napkins and food takeout containers, are not good for the environment. Far too much energy and resources go into the manufacturing of these single-use products. Most of these products cannot be recycled or composted. Paper plates, plastic bags, plastic food containers, straws and plastic cutlery, even if they bear the recyclable logo (i.e. the triangular Mobius loop), are not accepted for recycling once they are contaminated by food, grease and water.
Further, the cost of recycling these items can be much higher than manufacturing new ones from scratch, since it would include the cost of collecting, sorting, washing and processing the used materials, which the manufacturer would not have to do when producing these items from petroleum and other raw materials. As such, most manufacturers would opt not to accept used plastics for recycling. Even if disposables could be recycled or composted, most of its environmental impact occurs ‘upstream’, that is, in manufacturing and transportation, before these products are even used.
Once these products are used and thrown away, they end up filling up landfills and making their way into streams, rivers and oceans. Straws and plastic cutlery have been found in the noses, throats and stomachs of turtles, whales and other marine animals. Volunteers participating in beach clean-ups can confirm that a lot of the rubbish collected from beaches consist of plastic cutlery and plastic straws.
The reason why plastic cutlery and straws are so widely used are as follows:
1.      It is cheaper than permanent washable metal cutlery and straws or compostable cutlery and straws made from plants.
2.      It is convenient and businesses do not have to worry about collecting used cutlery and straws for washing.
However, it is irresponsible and unkind to keep doing something that we know is harmful to the environment and animals just because it is cheap and convenient.
Making toys, lampshades, coasters and placemats from used plastic straws and cutlery is NOT a solution since it does not reduce the demand for, or the production of, the said products. Further, once the plastic turns brittle, you would have to throw the items away, and they would still end up in landfills and in our soil and water. It is better not to accept and use disposable plastic cutlery and straws in the first place.
Here are some of the alternatives to disposable cutlery and plastic straws:
1.      Avoid buying plastic straws or cutlery to use at home or for parties. If you don’t keep them in the house, nobody will be tempted to use them. People often go for the most convenient option out of laziness, so don’t create that option in the first place.
2.      When you are ordering takeout or food delivery, specify “NO CUTLERY OR STRAW, PLEASE.” No restaurant or fast food outlet would turn down your request since it would save them money.
3.      Get in the habit of drinking without a straw. You can safely drink from most cups, glasses, mugs, bottles and cans. Give the tops of canned drinks a quick rinse with water if you have concerns about their cleanliness. There is no guarantee that plastic straws are any cleaner than the cups or cans you are drinking out of. Most plastic straws are handled by human hands in restaurants or exposed to dust and dirt after all.
4.      Paper straws may seem like a compostable and more environmentally-friendly option, but they often require more water, energy and resources to manufacture. Since paper straws are disposable and are produced from wood pulp and therefore require the cutting down of trees, they are still a less-than-ideal alternative to plastic straws.
5.      Bioplastics, or plastics made from plants, algae or microorganisms, may sound like a good alternative to conventional petroleum-based disposable plastic products. The two most common bioplastics used for food containers and disposable tableware are PLA and PHA, which are plastics made from corn. The advantages of bioplastics is that they are made from plants, a renewable resource. They use less energy and emit less carbon dioxide than conventional plastics. They also do not have the same known health risks as petroleum-based plastics. However, there are disadvantages to producing and using bioplastics. Bioplastics can reduce food supply when valuable farming land is used to produce corn and other crops for bioplastics, instead of for growing food crops for humans and animals. Fossil fuel-based fertilisers and pesticides are often used in growing crops for bioplastics. Because bioplastics look similar to conventional plastics, they often end up in recycling bins, where they contaminate conventional plastics in the recycling plants. If bioplastics break down in the landfill, they release methane, a greenhouse gas. Therefore, it is better to avoid switching from conventional disposable plastic products to bioplastics, except when you have no other option available and have to choose between the two.
6.      Invest in a stainless steel, glass or bamboo straw and a set of steel cutlery or a Spork, and bring it with you whenever you go out so that you will not have to accept disposable plastic cutlery or straws. Remember to inform the service staff at the point of ordering your food that you do not want a straw or disposable cutlery. Do not inform them only after your food or drink has arrived.
7.      You may wish to bring an extra set of steel cutlery to lend to a friend when you go out to eat, especially when you eat at fast food outlets, food courts or food truck stops. Take a bag or container with you to bring the used cutlery home for washing if there is no soap and water where you are going.
8.      If you are travelling to a place where hygiene and clean water supply is an issue, bring some compostable bamboo or plant-based cutlery and straws with you and use these instead. You may also wish to bring biodegradable plates and cups with you when buying food and beverages from roadside stalls to avoid having to accept plastic bags, Styrofoam food containers or less-than-clean plates and cutlery.
9.      If your neighbourhood food court or school canteen is using disposable cutlery, write to the food court or canteen operator to persuade them to switch to washable, reusable and durable cutlery. Tell them how much money they will save in the long run from replacing disposables with reusables.
10.  Write to your favourite restaurants and cafes or leave a message on their Facebook pages requesting them to replace disposable plastic straws with reusable steel straws, bamboo straws or natural and compostable alternatives such as reeds, vegan candy tubes such as Twizzlers with the ends snipped off (as recommended by eco-friendly lifestyle guru Danny Seo) and papaya leaf stems (as practiced by Down-To-Earth restaurant in Ubud, Bali).
It may take you a while to adjust to not using a straw or disposable cutlery, and having to remember to carry your reusable straws and cutlery with you, but your efforts will go a long way towards preventing wildlife deaths and plastic pollution.
(Image from the Tak Nak Straw Facebook page:

Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Letter to the Editor: Our Shared Duty To Prevent Wildlife Deaths

The demise of Puntung, one of the last three remaining Sumatran rhinoceroses (June 4), united the nation in our grief. Just weeks later, the tragic and avoidable death of a baby elephant by a speeding vehicle on the Gerik-Jeli Highway (June 19) left both the public and the conservation community dismayed and horrified. Photos that surfaced on social media in the same month (June 5) of the hunting and killing of protected and endangered species including the Malayan sun bear, ostensibly by indigenous hunters, are a further indication of the grave threats faced by Malaysian wildlife. It looks as though the future for wildlife in Malaysia is very bleak indeed, and that extinction is a certainty for many species.
Human behavioural change is essential to stopping wildlife trade and preventing extinction. As a direct result of poaching and habitat loss, there are only 2 Sumatran rhinoceros left in Malaysia following Puntung’s death. In order for anti-poaching and anti-wildlife trafficking laws to succeed, there must be public education and awareness efforts to encourage and reward wildlife crime reporting, eradicate bribery and corruption, and discourage the hunting, trafficking, sale, and consumption of wildlife. The power of social media must be harnessed to expose, report, identify and prosecute wildlife offenders, and to educate society that traditional medicine relying on wildlife parts such as rhinoceros horn and pangolin scales are a fraud and harmful both to wildlife populations and human safety and health. Whether or not we are in the medical or conservation communities, we must make it clear to everyone including other social media users, indigenous communities and the older generation who make up the majority of traditional Chinese medicine consumers that there are no benefits to consuming wildlife parts, and there is no such thing as legal or sustainable trade in wildlife.    
The hunting of wildlife by indigenous communities is a sensitive issue, and prosecuting indigenous hunters may be viewed as an oppressive act that impinges on indigenous rights. However, it cannot be denied that many indigenous hunters capture or kill wildlife for commercial gain, and the absence of arrests and prosecution will only embolden poachers and hunters to act with impunity. Some of the hunters may already be aware that the hunting and death rates have already exceeded the natural reproduction and growth rates of certain species, yet yield to the temptation of making a quick gain. We cannot ignore the human factor in wildlife protection, and as such, must participate in and contribute to efforts and initiatives to empower and provide alternative and sustainable livelihoods for rural and indigenous communities to reduce and eventually eliminate their need for poaching and hunting.
Environmentalists have consistently objected to the construction of new highways through forests and wildlife habitats, knowing the adverse ecological effects. In situations where such infrastructure already exists, there must be systems put in place to mitigate harm to natural areas and wildlife.
Whenever wildlife deaths by traffic occur, the public is quick to demand high-tech, high-cost solutions such as more wildlife viaducts and underpasses. Wildlife viaducts, corridors, culverts and underpasses, although expensive and time-consuming to construct, are without doubt the best ways to reduce wildlife deaths and alleviate the effects of habitat fragmentation. However, human behavioural change is a critical component of wildlife protection. Not all wildlife will use viaducts without fail, and until more viaducts are constructed, many more animals will succumb to wildlife-vehicle collisions. Some lower cost techniques and approaches to encourage driver behavioural change can include:

• Increasing public education to inculcate fauna- and bird-friendly driving attitudes and improve driver safety;
• Improving signage and lighting in areas with wildlife sightings;
• Introducing signage requiring drivers to honk near wildlife habitats to warn animals;
• Reducing or blocking off roadside food and water sources (e.g. grassy verges, fruiting trees, streams) to discourage wildlife from venturing to roadside areas for food and water;
• Installing light reflectors to intensify light from oncoming vehicles in order to scare or warn wildlife of approaching vehicles;
• Installing speed bumps to slow down traffic near wildlife habitats;
• Introducing light-coloured road surfaces to increase visibility and discourage wildlife from loitering and resting on roads;
• Installing devices that will detect wildlife or oncoming vehicles and emit warning sirens to alert both driver and wildlife;
• Developing and utilising mobile apps that work together with apps such as Waze and Google Maps to warn drivers of the presence of wildlife; and
• Installing speed cameras and enforcing speed limits in wildlife-rich areas.
The existence of wildlife protection laws alone will not ensure the survival of wildlife. It is incumbent upon all of us to take steps and modify our attitudes and behaviour to reduce wildlife deaths, failing which we will have to bear the detrimental environmental, economic and social consequences of an ecologically imbalanced and impoverished world.


Thursday, May 18, 2017

The Hive Bulk Foods Shop Visit and Other Zero Waste Tips

By Wong Ee Lynn
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Hidden away in a tidy and welcoming house in Jalan Telawi 9, Bangsar, is The Hive Bulk Foods, a cooperative that works with local organic farmers and the Orang Asli community. It offers organic groceries, packaging-free grains, cereals and seeds in bulk (customers bring their own jars and containers) and sustainable, low-waste products including personal care products and household cleaning products.


Set up by zero-waste blogger and activist Claire Sancelot, The Hive Bulk Foods carries items that are not easily available in Malaysia such as shampoo bars (do away with the plastic pump bottles and extra fuel miles needed to transport them!), compostable bamboo toothbrushes (since conventional plastic toothbrushes are NOT recyclable and should not be put into the recycling bins!), washable and reusable sanitary pads, reusable stainless steel straws and travel-sized cutleries to replace disposable utensils.


From the food section, customers are able to purchase packaging-free spices, dehydrated fruits, nuts, cereal, granola, rice, cacao nibs, coffee grounds, rolled oats, grains, herbal teas, Himalayan salt, and many varieties of organic flour, among others.


Shops such as The Hive Bulk Foods offer consumers more sustainable options to conventional groceries and goods. From a social justice point of view, The Hive empowers local organic farmers and producers, including the Orang Asli communities, and contributes to the local economy while cutting down on the fuel miles of transporting organic products from distant places.


Some of the products may appear expensive. However, one must take into account the fact that conventional goods and industries are often heavily subsidized and therefore cheaper, and consumers do not have to bear the cradle-to-grave costs of producing, using and disposing of conventional products such as plastic bags and disposable diapers.


If the public had to pay for the cost of cleaning up waterways, reforesting degraded land, rehabilitating wildlife and building and maintaining landfills, people would change their minds very quickly about going for the more convenient but more damaging options! Also, in the long run, reusable items such as tiffin carriers, handkerchiefs, cloth kitchen towels, cloth diapers and reusable cloth sanitary pads will serve you better than single-use products and save you money.


The Hive Bulk Foods’ official website is and their Facebook page is


The shop is located at 16, Telawi 9, Bangsar and is open from 9.00 a.m. to 6.00 p.m. from Mondays to Saturdays. They are closed on Sundays.


Here are ways we can all make zero-waste adjustments to our lives whether or not we live near a cool cooperative like The Hive Bulk Foods:

1.      Determine what it is that you are disposing the most of. Those items should be your priority. Therefore, you should be more concerned over the plastic-and-foil coffee pods and disposable diapers that you discard daily, than about purchasing a bamboo bicycle, organic cotton bedsheets, or item of furniture that is used for decades.


2.      Replace these items that you most frequently dispose of with the washable and reusable alternatives. To make the habit of using washable and reusable items work for you, you may find that you will need to purchase or make enough of the reusable item, and keep enough of it in places where they are most needed. Therefore, keep plenty of kitchen rags and towels in the kitchen, and have enough handkerchiefs, cloth sanitary pads and cloth diapers to last you at least a week. These items do not take up much space in the washing machine or washbasin and soon become just as convenient as using disposables, once you get in the habit of using them daily. Besides, tissue paper, wet wipes, paper towels, disposable diapers and disposable sanitary pads all require a lot of water, resources and fuel to produce, package and transport to you and deal with once they are disposed of. Having to wash reusable items is therefore still less wasteful and damaging to the environment than using disposable items.


3.      Replace 3-in-1 beverage mixes (generally, coffee, tea and breakfast beverages) with loose tea leaves, herbal tea mixes or coffee grounds, preferably organic and fairtrade / UTZ-certified. Those plastic-and-foil sachets that beverage mixes come in cannot be recycled and very soon adds up. Get in the habit of making and mixing your own drinks instead of relying on the convenient but unhealthy, wasteful and environmentally-damaging habit of buying pre-mixed drinks in plastic sachets.


4.      If you are using contact lenses, consider switching to glasses or opting for corrective eye surgery. Using contact lenses requires you to purchase lenses, cleaning solutions and disinfectants that come in a lot of packaging.


5.      If there are no packaging-free shopping options where you live, buy items that you use the most of in bulk and in the largest size packaging available. Opt for packaging that is recyclable or reusable, for example, pet food in large lidded pails that can be used for other purposes, or laundry detergent powder in large buckets that can be refilled with loose soap powder in refill packs.


6.      Bring your reusable shopping bags, handkerchief, beverage bottle and food container with you whenever you leave the house. Keep a few extras in your bag or car just in case.


7.      If you are in the habit of using disposable wet wipes, consider making your own reusable ones here:


8.      Opt to dine in rather than take away your food to reduce packaging. When purchasing drinks in paper or plastic cups, request for ‘no lid and no straw’ to cut down on plastic waste.


9.      Store food in lidded jars and containers, rather than use clingfilm and kitchen foil. Some websites recommend beeswax cloth reusable ‘clingwrap’ and cloth snack bags. Do go with the option that is the most convenient and practical for you. It would also make sense for you to use the containers and empty jars that you already have, rather than buy something new.


10.  In the bathroom, use a face flannel rather than makeup remover wipes and cotton balls, and exfoliate yourself with a pumice stone or salt or sugar scrub instead of commercial cleansers containing microbeads.




Tuesday, May 2, 2017

Activity Report: Earth Day at the MNS UCF

By Wong Ee Lynn
The gloomy drizzle that we woke up to on the morning of Earth Day (22nd April 2017) failed to deter close to 40 dedicated volunteers from showing up at the Malaysian Nature Society Urban Community Forest (UCF) to assist in the trail and nursery cleanup organised by Green Living SIG.

Volunteers consisting of MNS members, members of the public, members of expat community InterNations and staff of biodegradable medical examination glove manufacturer Cranberry (M) Sdn Bhd worked together to clean up the UCF / Federal Hill trail and nursery, the UCF stream and the areas surrounding the MNS headquarters’ entrance. This completed, they also mulched the UCF compost pile and weeded the nursery and vegetable patch.

A refreshment break was provided once these tasks have been completed, and each volunteer was given a reusable cloth tote bag as a token of appreciation. The generous volunteers also brought electronic waste for recycling and pre-loved clothes, toys and books for Green Living’s ongoing projects with other organisations assisting the homeless and urban poor communities in Kuala Lumpur. Several kind volunteers also helped to sort through and pack the donations for easy transportation, while others contributed refreshments.

A Photo Scavenger Hunt was held to end the event on a high note. Volunteers were given a list of items to look for and photograph, including something that propagates through spores, an edible plant, something that has no use in nature (clue: it’s manmade!), and a ‘wefie’ with another volunteer that they have not met prior to this event.
Prizes were given out to the winners and volunteers were duly thanked for their contributions. Green Living would like to thank all the volunteers who participated and we hope to see you at future events.

Monday, April 10, 2017

Eco Kids Column May 2017: 20 Ways To Help Wildlife

By Wong Ee Lynn
Much as we would like to be, not every one of us are, or will someday be, wildlife biologists or working in the conservation and animal protection sector. However, there are many things we can do in our daily lives to assist and protect wildlife. These actions go beyond merely recycling empty containers and ‘liking’ posts on Facebook. Some may take you some time to implement or get used to. Hopefully, you are already doing many of the things on this list, but if you aren’t yet, choose at least one or two to try today!

1.      Bring rubbish sacks, gardening gloves and/or rubbish tongs/claws with you whenever you go out. Pick up litter whenever you are able, especially in natural spaces such as jungle trails and beaches. Each piece of litter removed from a natural ecosystem helps wildlife and creates better places for humans.
2.      Buy or make your own biodegradable and non-toxic cleaning products, such as laundry detergent, shampoo and dishwashing liquid. Chemicals in conventional detergents and cleaning products flow into drains, streams and rivers and often harm or kill wildlife. Do not use bleach as it is very toxic and even small quantities can kill pets, birds, frogs, earthworms, insects and other animals.
3.      Avoid using glue traps, sticky fly paper, rat traps and similar ‘pest control’ methods and devices. Birds, bats, squirrels and other small animals often get trapped in these cruel traps and suffocate and die. The best pest control method is prevention: store food in covered containers or screened and ventilated food cabinets, put waste in covered waste bins, keep your surroundings clean, keep drains and ditches clear and unblocked, and install window and door screens to keep insects out. If you find small animals or birds trapped in glue, clean them gently with vegetable or mineral oil and gently rub the glue off. Wash them clean with shampoo and water until there are no traces of glue or oil left. Let them recover and dry off before you see if they can be safely released. If you are unsure of your abilities, or if the animal or bird looks injured, consult a vet. If you live in Kuala Lumpur or Selangor, you can also contact Dr. Jalila Abu of the Avian Vet Unit of UPM at 03 8946 8340.
4.      Buy local, organic and seasonal produce as often as you can, and eat vegetarian or vegan whenever possible, if you aren’t already vegetarian / vegan. Local and seasonal produce uses less fuel to produce and transport and therefore generates less carbon dioxide. Organic produce does not use chemical pesticides and herbicides that kill insects, birds and wildlife. Livestock and poultry farming uses a lot of land and resources, thus depriving wildlife of their habitat and food and water sources.
5.      Create small-scale wildlife habitats. Even in an apartment balcony, you can grow fruiting or flowering native plants that can provide food for native birds and insects. Grow pollinator-friendly plants that attract bees and butterflies, and have a compost pit or bin where bugs and earthworms are welcome to stay.
6.      If you live in landed property, ensure your gates and fences do not have barbed wire or broken glass tops that will cut and hurt wildlife such as squirrels, tree shrews and common palm civets. Create sufficient space to allow small animals to climb over or pass through your fence and gate safely.
7.      If you have pet cats or dogs, neuter and vaccinate them and keep them indoors or at least within your compound. If they do go out to play, put a safety collar with a bell on them, so that birds and small animals will be warned of your pets’ approach. Do not allow your pets to chase or catch birds, reptiles and other small animals.
8.      Put up a microhabitat. Bird nesting boxes, bat boxes and bird baths all can provide safe spaces for wildlife, especially during harsh weather.
9.      Inspire someone else to go outdoors. What is your favourite nature spot? Whether it is a hiking trail like the one in Bukit Gasing Educational Forest, or the mangroves of Kuala Selangor, offer to show someone else this spot and teach them about its importance as a wildlife habitat. People care more about things and places they have first-hand experience with.
10.  Join an environmental organisation such as MNS, Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (MYCAT), or the Turtle Conservation Society of Malaysia (TCSM) and volunteer with them. Even without a background in conservation and wildlife protection, you can help man their awareness and education booths, raise funds, share posts on social media, collect signatures for petitions, attend and assist at their events and talks, and participate in short volunteer stints.
11.  Donate your old wildlife and conservation magazines, such as the Malaysian Naturalist, to community libraries, clinic waiting rooms and barbers and hairdressers to get other people interested in nature and wildlife.
12.  Contact your local MP, State Assemblyman and local councillor about wildlife issues in your area. For example, if people are feeding and poisoning macaques or trapping birds, or if palm civets and snakes are being killed by speeding vehicles, write in to your elected representative to propose solutions. These individuals are elected to serve the people, and you have the right to voice your concerns.
13.  Investigate your local wild patch. If there is a patch of wild land in your neighbourhood, find out more about it. Explore it safely in a group and record any bird and wildlife sightings you see. Inform the local chapters of any environmental groups and the residents’ association to try to protect the area. Report any wildlife crimes you see (e.g. mist nets to catch birds, or traps and snares to catch monkeys and wild boars) to the MYCAT Wildlife Crime Hotline at 0193564194 or to the state office of the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan).
14.  Never purchase products made from threatened or endangered species. Avoid supporting the market in illegal wildlife trade. Boycott all traditional medicine made of wildlife parts, tortoise or turtle shell products, ivory, fur products, butterflies and beetles preserved in plastic or resin, and products made from the skin of snakes and other reptiles.
15.  Buy sustainable forest products. Choose bamboo or rattan furniture, and products certified by the Forest Stewardship Council. Avoid furniture made from wood from rainforests. Minimise your use of palm oil (found in most processed food products, snacks, soap and shampoo) as rainforests including those in Malaysia are destroyed to make way for oil palm plantations.
16.  Use your mobile phones for as long as possible, and recycle them once they can no longer be repaired and reused. Mobile phones contain coltan, a mineral extracted from mines in the deep forests of Congo, in central Africa, which is home to the world’s endangered lowland gorillas. The boom in the worldwide demand for mobile phones has led to the destruction of gorilla habitats and the rampant slaughter of gorillas for the illegal bushmeat trade.
17.  Slow down when driving. If someone else is doing the driving, advise them politely to slow down and keep an eye out for wildlife. If you are the passenger, stay alert for wildlife that may be crossing the road or birds that may be flying low. Many animals live in developed areas and this means they must navigate a landscape full of human hazards.
18.  Do not purchase exotic pets. Sugar gliders, slow lorises, marmosets, monkeys, parrots and other wildlife belong in the wild with their families and in their habitats. If you love them, protect their habitats. Keeping them in captivity will not keep their species safe and will only cause them stress and anguish. There are thousands of domestic animals -- chiefly dogs, cats and rabbits that have been selectively bred for centuries to live with humans and to depend on humans -- looking for good homes in animal shelters and pounds. Please consider giving them a chance of living a good life with you instead.
19.  Do not visit circuses, travelling zoos, petting zoos and uncertified private zoos. Keeping wildlife in captivity is neither kind nor educational. Many of these animals are caught by poachers and hunters, usually by killing the mother animal and taking the baby away. The money you pay to visit these facilities will not be used to keep the animals fed and healthy. Instead, it will usually be used to buy more animals to be used as ‘attractions’ to keep visitors coming.
20.  Make your home wildlife-friendly and wildlife-safe. Avoid using pesticides, herbicides, glue traps, rat poison or bleach. Put stickers or decals on windows if you find that birds keep flying into them. Keep a lid on your waste bin to stop animals from raiding your rubbish. Wash jars and containers and put the lids back on before you put them in the recycling bin or bag. Clean out the insides of cans and use a hammer to flatten the openings of cans to stop small animals from getting trapped inside or getting cut by the sharp edges of cans. Dispose of needles, pins and razor blades by wrapping them in masking tape and labelling them clearly as sharp objects. Recycle electronic waste and batteries. Avoid accepting and using plastic bags, plastic drinking straws, and polystyrene packaging. These are small actions that take getting used to, but will go a long way in preventing the unnecessary deaths of wildlife and even stray animals.