Malaysia: Road project will split jumbos, say experts

The Star 2 Mar 16;

KOTA KINABALU: Isolated Bornean elephant populations in the east coast Lower Kinabatangan will be further fragmented should a road and a bridge be built there, said a wildlife researcher.

Director of Danau Girang field centre in Lower Kinabatangan Dr Benoit Goosens said the proposed project would split elephant herds in Sukau with those in Lokan and Tangkulap.

Elephants, he said, would not move under a bridge or a major trunk road as evident from the construction of a bridge across the Sungai Segama in the 1980s.

That bridge, he said, effectively iso­lated elephant populations between Batu Putih and Abai.

“Elephants will not go under the bridge due to the noise and vibration caused by passing trucks and cars and it’s dangerous for them when crossing roads,” said Dr Goosens, whose centre works with the Sabah Wildlife Department.

State Tourism, Culture and Envi­ron­­ment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun had said on Monday that the Public Works Department was working out an alternative plan for the proposed bridge near Kampung Sukau.

The state Cabinet, he said, had discussed the issue of the proposed bridge following concerns over wildlife conservation in Lot 3 of the Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary.

Conservationists have said that the project would also create repercussions on the movements of elephants in the area where a reforestation programme under Project Relief is being carried out jointly by Nestle and Sime Darby Foundation.

Sime Darby Foundation chief execu­tive Yatela Zainal Abidin had also handed over a letter to Masidi to voice their concerns over the project.

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