Malaysia: Electric fencing fails to keep out elephants

S. Ista Kyra New Straits Times 12 May 12;

TOO CLOSE FOR COMFORT: Herd sighted just 20m from Orang Asli villages

GRIK: Some 500 residents from several Orang Asli settlements here are living in fear following sightings of a herd of wild elephants in the area.

The herd of 13 elephants was spotted two weeks ago.

Despite the presence of a 12km electric fence put up last year to prevent such intrusions, the animals were believed to have gained entry through a gate which was left open.

Perak Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim said their staff had advised the villagers to keep the gate closed, especially at night, but the warning was often ignored.

Among the affected settlements are Kampung Banun, Kampung Raba, RPS Desa Permai and RPS Pengkalan Permai.

Now, the department is faced with the hard task of tracking and driving the elephants out of the fenced-up area.

"We have a team working on it."

Perhilitan Grik branch chief Zainal Abidin Mat said the gate was part of a logging road linked to remote villages deep in the Belum-Temenggor forest complex like Kampung Semelor, Kampung Pulau Tujuh, Kampung Sungai Tekam and RPS Kemar.

"These villages are located in areas that have long been the elephants' roaming ground.

"Before the electric fence was put up, the herds used to pass by these villages and back into the jungle.

"Now that the animals are inside, it's more difficult to lead them out again through the main gate."

He said a four-man team had been stationed in the area since last month after the sightings. "The latest sighting of the herd was at 2am on Thursday, some 20m from the village."