Malaysia: Culling of bull elephant a step backwards for conservation -- WWF

RUBEN SARIO The Star 22 Nov 16;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department's move to cull a bull elephant that had killed a plantation worker is a "step backwards" in conservation efforts of the endangered species, WWF Malaysia said.

WWF Malaysia executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma said other options are available in dealing with the male elephant.

In a statement Tuesday, he said that while there is no "one size fits all solution" to the complex human-elephant conflict, some possible mitigating measures include the use of electric fences at strategic locations.

Dr Sharma said setting up forest corridors between tracts of jungles will also help reduce the conflict.

"It is hoped that the recent culling will not be a precedent for human-elephant conflict cases in the future," he said.

"Borneo elephants are mostly found in Sabah and their population has dwindled over the years due to habitat loss and such conflicts. Therefore, the death of one member is a huge blow to the whole population," Dr Sharma added.

He noted that the department had confirmed that the culled bull elephant was in musth, a period when the males are known to exhibit aggressive behaviour, and consequently are susceptible to provocation.

"Therefore, those working or living in areas inhabited by elephants need to remain alert of their surroundings, particularly during dawn and after 3pm when elephants are known to be more active," Dr Sharma added.

"When confronting elephants, restraint must be practised and retribution avoided, as killing elephants merely addresses the symptoms of a problem," he said.

Dr Sharma said unsustainable land use planning in Sabah is also partly to blame for human-elephant conflict.

He said WWF-Malaysia is working with the wildlife and forestry departments as well as plantation companies on joint mitigation options to reduce conflicts via the Kalabakan human-elephant conflict working group in Tawau.

Wildlife department director Augustine Tuuga said the bull elephant was shot and killed late Sunday, a day after it trampled an Indonesian national to death on Nov 19.


Elephant culling does not solve Human-Elephant Conflict
WWF 22 Nov 16;

Kota Kinabalu: WWF-Malaysia does not condone the recent culling of a bull elephant in Tawau in a Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) by Sabah Wildlife Department ('Bull elephant that killed man in Sabah culled', The Star, 21 November 2016) as it greatly impacts the shrinking population of Sabah’s pachyderms.

Borneo elephants are mostly found in Sabah and its population has dwindled over the years due to habitat loss and HEC, therefore the death of one member is a huge blow to the whole population. Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) has confirmed that the culled bull was in musth, a period where male elephants are known to exhibit aggressive behaviour, and consequently are susceptible to provocation. Therefore those working or living in areas inhabited by elephants need to remain alert of their surroundings, particularly during dawn and after 3pm when elephants are known to be more active. When confronting elephants, restraint must be practiced and retribution avoided, as killing elephants merely addresses the symptom of a problem, which is HEC caused by unsustainable land use planning in Sabah.

It is unfortunate that both human and elephant lives were lost in the recent conflict, which highlights the sense of urgency for HEC to be mitigated strategically. WWF-Malaysia is currently working on joint mitigation options to reduce HEC with state agencies such as Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah Forestry Department, and plantation companies via the Kalabakan HEC working group in Tawau. While its complex nature means that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for HEC, some of the science-based solutions that WWF-Malaysia have been recommending include strategic placement of electric fences and wildlife corridors that link fragmented forests.

One of the Sabah state government's latest commitments to conservation is its intention to create a wildlife corridor for Borneo elephants in the Heart of Borneo. Culling a threatened species when other options are available is a step backwards in the state's journey to sustainability. While WWF-Malaysia continues to collaborate with SWD and other stakeholders to mitigate HEC in the state, it is hoped that the recent culling will not be a precedent for HEC cases in the future.

Dato’ Dr Dionysius Sharma
Executive Director/CEO WWF-Malaysia

No comments:

Post a Comment