Malaysia: Human-elephant conflicts on rise

POLIANA RONNIE SIDOM New Straits Times 8 Feb 18;

TELUPID: KAMPUNG Gambaron folks here want the proposed training for its youngsters in handling elephants be hastened in view of rising human-elephant conflict.

Its Village Development and Security Committee (JKKK) chairman Morius Jeffrey said previously there were suggestions by environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs) to have the youngsters of every village faced with the elephant threat, trained in properly handling them.

The most recent case was two herds of elephants of at least 20 individuals spotted near several villages here earlier this year.

“There were suggestions to train our youngsters with how to control and handle elephants.

“However since there were no developments, some of our youths have taken the initiative to make their own explosives to chase the large mammals away from the village area.

“We have informed the Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) about this and also asked the youths to be careful,” he said when contacted.

The wild elephant presence has been on the rise since last year, and the animals have taken to trespassing into village settlements and destroying crops at least once every four months.

Besides Kg Gambaron, five other areas facing the human-elephant conflict are Kg Liningkung, Kg Bauto, Kg Telupid, Telupid town and Sekolah Menengah Kebangsaan (SMK) Telupid.

“Right now we are facing the largest encroachment of wild elephants at any one time, with about 20 of them, causing concern among villagers as more crops are destroyed besides worrying for their own safety,” he added.

Morius said villagers also hoped the government could install electrical fence to keep the elephants from destroying more crops.

Meanwhile SWD director Augustine Tuuga said seven personnel from three teams involving the Wildlife Rescue Unit, the department’s Kinabatangan and Sandakan divisions were sent to the district to assist with elephant control efforts.

He said the 20 individuals from two separate herds are believed to have come over from the
Deramakot and Segaliud forest reserves nearby.

“They are the same group of elephants translocated to Deramakot but they have started moving back to the Telupid area.

“We will try to control these animals first because the cost of translocating them is high at RM30,000 per elephant,” he said.