Malaysia: Electric fence to keep elephants away in the works

SIRA HABIBU The Star 10 Jul 17;

KOTA BARU: An electric fence will be built in Gua Musang to reduce the risk of conflict with elephants as their habitat continues to shrink because of deforestation activities.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he was seeking RM200,000 from the Finance Ministry for the fence.

“Building it is one of the mitigation measures to reduce conflict in areas populated by humans, while at the same time conserving the wild elephant population in its original habitat.

“Electric fencing is a long-term solution to the problem of wild elephants raiding human settlements for food,” Dr Wan Junaidi said in a statement after a recent incident at SK Seri Permai in Pos Pasik, Gua Musang.

Several wild elephants damaged fencing, doors and windows when they fed on bananas from the plants behind the teachers’ quarters.

Fortunately, the incident occurred on June 30, when the teachers and students were away during the Hari Raya break.

The school authorities reported the incident to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) on July 2.

The elephants also left behind piles of dung.

“The elephant incident in Gua Musang was the first in five years,” Dr Wan Junaidi said.

“Based on Perhilitan’s findings, the damage was caused by three elephants from the Bertam elephant herd.”

It is learnt that this herd is made up of about 20 elephants.

The damage caused was estimated at RM7,000.

“I have directed the ministry, through Perhilitan, to implement short and long-term mitigation plans to address conflict involving elephants,” Dr Wan Junaidi said, adding that short-term measures include shooting to scare away the elephants.

He also appealed to members of the public not to take matters into their own hands during conflict situations with wild animals.

“I appeal to all the stakeholders to give full co-operation to ensure sustainable management of the wild elephant population in the country,” he said.

Pos Pasik village chief Hashim Harun said the elephants raided the banana plantation at 4am and destroyed about 100 plants.

Information on wildlife conflict should be forwarded to Perhilitan through its hotline 1-800-88-5151 (8am to 6pm daily) or its website at www.wildlife.gov.my.

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