Malaysia: Jumbos not welcomed as neighbours

muguntan vanar The Star 3 Mar 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The move to translocate a herd of protected Borneo pygmy elephants marauding farmlands and plantations in Telupid to other forest reserves is being met with resistance from residents near the reserves where the elephants will be moved to.

As the standoff between wildlife officers and the herd enters its 38th day, Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said people living in plantations near the Imbak canyon forest reserve and those in Kalabakan are asking us not to send the (Telupid) elephants there.

“We’ve sent (the animals) to the Dermakot forest reserve but found that they came back as the reserve is very close to Telupid,” he said in an interview.

“We are now looking at other options to resolve the problem,” he said.

The herd created panic recently when an elephant wandered into a school canteen and a few others went to the Telupid police station to forage for food.

On Thursday, a ranger chasing away the elephants was injured after he fell while the team faced a range of problems, including vehicle breakdown, as they tried to locate the herd which had split into groups of three or four.

Tuuga said a long-term solution would be to create a larger reserve area for the elephants within Telupid and put up electric fences to stop them from entering the villages.

“Such an area will contain the problem and can be used as a tourism attraction,” he said, adding that he would be bringing this up with the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry.

Rangers from the Wildlife Rescue Unit, he said, had so far captured five elephants, including a calf, from the herd of 20.

“Three of them are bulls and another, a female.

“Our rangers are trying to capture one or two more aggressive bulls and work towards shooing back the remaining herd into the Telupid forest reserve,” he said, adding that two of the animals caught were fitted with satellite collars and translocated to a neighbouring forest.

There are an estimated 1,500 to 2,500 pygmy elephants left in Sabah’s wild.

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