Malaysia: Proposed Sukau bridge may affect pygmy elephants, Sabah govt told

MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 26 Jan 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Government has been urged to re-examine the proposed RM223mil Sukau bridge project, with conservationists saying it will affect the state’s pygmy elephant population.

Environmentalists said the bridge project will disrupt the movement of Borneo pygmy elephants between forests, and they are urging the state government to scrap the project.

In response, Sabah Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Nyuk Ming said the state cannot ignore the implications of the project.

Speaking in his personal capacity, he said that the Kinabatangan area was internationally renowned and the bridge project would have serious implications on not only elephant conservation, but also tourism.

“I believe such a bridge over the migratory path of the elephants would definitely bring more conflict between elephants and humans,” he said.

In Kalabakan (Tawau), elephants have been reported as going on the rampage after forests were cleared for oil palm plantations.

Pang told reporters this after meeting Kinabatangan-based Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goossens here on Thursday.

The Kinabatangan conservation area has been dubbed the “Corridor of Life.”

Dr Goossens briefed Pang, saying the proposed project would have a critical impact on Borneo pygmy elephants and other wildlife, including orangutans, in Kinabatangan.

“The scientific evidence is now clear that the bridge site, followed by a highway that will run through the Sukau area, has been found to host the largest concentration of elephant movement,” said Pang.

“Given these facts that we have now, it will be very irresponsible for the authorities to knowingly brush (such concerns) off,” he added.

He urged a rethink on the bridge project that has been approved by the state government, but which was awaiting Environment Impact Assessment (EIA) approval.

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