Emails from Steve and I to Tunku Shahariah, the reporter who wrote the Star article “Honeyman feels the sting” about the endangered bee trees of Pedu Lake produced a gratifying response. She had already gone personally to Pedu Lake with the local forestry director, Kasim Osman, and Pak Teh to inspect the damage and this is her report.
No, the [bee tree] in your book is safe for now. Only one tree, located about 400m deep into the forest from the lakeside was marked for felling but after discovering that it is hollow inside, the culprits just abandoned the idea of sawing it down. However, Pak Teh claims that the bees are highly sensitive and have abandoned the tree after their habitat is disturbed. the others are still ok. That is according to Pak Teh. We have to rely on feedback from these honey hunters as the trees are located quite deep inside.
They now suspect the contractor building the hiway through the Reserve may have gone out of the surveyed boundaries to steal a few valuable trees. To cut the trees and get them out of the forest requires heavy machinery and the road crews had that. Several other trees were cut illegally. One of Pak Teh’s tualang trees, 400 meters from the road, was damaged and may not live. He says there is only one colony there now. Last year there were 20-25 hives there.
That’s all that is known for now and Sharie promised to keep us posted. We drove through that area last February and saw the widening of the old road to Pedu Lake. There is a swath of cleared land on either side of the road, but it does not extend deep into the forest. That is the danger, we think. Once the road is built, it will be easier to take advantage of it for good as well as for poaching valuable trees.