Malaysia: Jumbo rumble in the jungles

SAMANTHA CHOW and ELROI YEE The Star 24 Mar 16;

GERIK: A war is brewing between the orang asli and wild elephants in the jungles of Perak, and there are now reports of casualties on both sides.

Conservationist at the Wildlife Conservation Reserve Steven Lim said five to six elephants had been killed by the orang asli in the Belum-Temengor area over the past two years, mostly by lacing fruits with rat poison and ferti­lisers.

He claimed the orang asli resorted to such acts as their complaints to the authorities had fallen on deaf ears.

Last year, a 15-year-old boy was killed at Pos Kemar (an orang asli resettlement area in Hulu Perak) by an elephant.

He was not the first human casualty in the conflict.

A Village Security and Development Committee (JKKK) member at Pos Kemar, who declined to be named, said the orang asli killed the elephant responsible for the 15-year-old’s death using a trap called ranjau.

A ranjau consists of a tree trunk with a sharp spike, which strikes at the heart of the elephant when triggered.

“When human lives are at stake, laws don’t matter anymore. We have to care for our own safety,” he said.

A documentary by The Star’s R.AGE video crew captured the attempts of the orang asli of the Jahai tribe in Belum to ward off the elephants, which posed a danger to their homes and crops.

One family was forced to abandon their homes entirely after an elephant “attack”, and they lived in a makeshift tent for several weeks.

The orang asli claim the conflict is escala­ting because the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) has translocated 36 elephants into the area since 2010.

Perhilitan said the conflict could not be avoided due to human activity in the forest.

“However, we haven’t received any reports of retaliatory killings by the orang asli,” said Nosrat Ravichandran, director of the Consul­tancy Division for Perhilitan.

“We encourage those with information to inform us immediately.”

Bandaruna, one of the village heads at Pos Kemar, said they had spoken to the state assemblyman, the Department of Orang Asli Development and Perhilitan about the escalating conflict but they had not developed a long-term solution.

“If outsiders die, it will surely appear on TV. But when it happens to orang asli, nobody knows about it,” he claimed.

No comments:

Post a Comment