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Wednesday June 5, 2013 MYT 12:00:00 AM
Wednesday June 5, 2013 MYT 9:56:54 AM
by isabelle lai
PETALING JAYA: Seeing a herd of elephants eating rubbish discarded at an illegal dump along the Gerik-Jeli Highway shocked motorist Andrew Hew.
He immediately pulled his car to the side of the road and got out to take a video of the sight.
The YouTube video of the May 22 incident, lasting two minutes and eight seconds, showed four adults and a calf rummaging through the rubbish bags with their trunks.
“The elephants were just about 100m away from the road and the amount of rubbish was unbelievable,” Hew told The Star here yesterday.
The 44-year-old expressed concern that the elephants would have health issues or even die as they could have eaten some of the plastic bags.
He said he had also saved the GPS coordinates of the location and emailed these to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) for action.
When contacted, Perak Perhilitan director Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim confirmed that elephant dung had been found at the illegal dump.
His officers, he added, had also chased the elephants away from the area and would ensure that the animals did not return.
Perhilitan headquarters added that its state office would be holding discussions with the Gerik district council over the issue as soon as possible.
Malaysian Nature Society president Prof Dr Maketab Mohamed urged local authorities to take permanent measures to halt the illegal dumping of rubbish at the site.
He said community engagement as well as ensuring a proper waste disposal and collection system were crucial in tackling the problem.
“We don’t want to create behavioural change in the animals by allowing them to be dependent on human food,” he said.
“They could also end up using the busy highway to move around if they find food so near, causing traffic accidents which could then injure both humans and elephants,” he warned, adding that the large mammals moved around more at night.
This is the second incident involving wild elephants in Malaysia this year.
In January, both Malaysians and the international community were shocked and outraged when 14 Bornean pygmy elephants died from what was believed to be poisoning at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Sabah.
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Environment, Nation, News, elephants, health, mns, perhilitan
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