Someone has cleared a trail that is 10-12 feet wide along the northeastern coast of Penang.
Part of the trail, plotted using GPS on the map below, is close to 400 metres long.
But it appears to extend further north as well (not plotted below). This clearing is probably not visible from the air or drone photography because it is blocked from view by the cover of trees beyond the edge of the cleared trail.
A fisherman said workers armed with a chainsaw and machetes were spotted on the island “dari bulan dua” (February 2017) onwards.
But they stopped coming in early April, he said, presumably after the clearing was publicised in the local media around the time of Penang Forum 7: #SaveJerejak.
From the fairly fresh surfaces of the stumps on the ground, you can see that the path appears to have been recently cleared.
Also the dried brown leaves have not yet fallen off the branches of chopped tree trunks, lying here and there at the edge of the trail.
Although plans were announced earlier for a round-the-island bicycle track, this cleared trail, complete with boundary markers (little sticks on the ground with plastic flags)…
… appears too steep in parts and the ground too undulating for it to be a comfortable bicycle route.
The fisherman said he had heard talk of a motocross track, though that is hard to verify.
So what is going on here?
Examine all these photos and see what you think the clearing is for.
Incidentally, the fisherman I spoke to said that the monthly earnings of fisher folk in the area have tumbled from RM3,000-4,000 in the past – when they could catch plentiful and much sought after fish like grouper – to just RM800.
He suggested that the dwindling catch could be due to nearby land reclamation, the second Penang bridge construction, and overfishing by the thousands of leisure fishing enthusiasts in the state.
Meanwhile, a group of concerned residents of Penang and beyond are calling for a day of prayer and meditation tomorrow, Sunday for the protection of Pulau Jerejak.