Malaysia: Villagers still jittery over jumbos

IVAN LOH The Star 21 Oct 16;

IPOH: Orang asli at the Pos Kemar settlement in the Belum-Temengor Rainforest complex are still having sleepless nights as the conflict between them and elephants shows no signs of abating.

The Kampung Ralak village at the settlement was again raided by elephants last week and one house was destroyed by the animals.

Kampung Ralak villager Nor Era Kelawak, 18, said the elephants came at night and ate one of the villagers’ ration of food, including rice, sugar cane, tapioca, rambutan and durians.

“It was fortunate that no one was injured during the incident.

“The villagers are taking turns to stay up at night to watch out for the animals,” she said.

The villagers, she said, had complained to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) but nothing had been done to resolve the issue.

It was reported by The Star in March this year that the conflict started since 2010 when Perhilitan translocated 36 elephants into the area.

Since then, a “war” has been ongoing with casualties from both sides.

A 15-year-old boy was killed when an elephant rampaged in the village while at least six elephants were killed by the orang asli using poison-laced fruits and death traps over two years.

Perak Perhilitan director Noor Alif Wira Osman said they planned to set up electrical fences in the area near the settlement to stave off the animals.

“We have surveyed the area and think that the fence could prevent the animals from going into the village.

“However, we don’t have the budget for it and we will try to talk to the state about it.

“For now, we will try to resolve the matter in other ways,” he added.

Noor Alif said Perhilitan could only respond by driving the elephants away from the settlement whenever a complaint was received.

“But please understand that the settlement is located within a forest and the animals roam there.

“They are bound to come in contact with each other,” he said, adding that elephants rescued from other part of the state would usually be relocated to the Royal Belum Rainforest complex.

“Our officers can’t be there all the time but we will do what we can to resolve it,” he said.