HULU TERENGGANU: An elephant sanctuary would be set up in Johor in an effort to conserve wild elephants which were facing extinction, said Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar here on Sunday.
He said at present, there were two such centres in Peninsular Malaysia – the Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary in Pahang and Kenyir Elephant Conservation Village (KECV) in Terengganu.
“We plan to build one more in Johor and we are still identifying a suitable place,” he told reporters after the signing of a memorandum of understanding between the federal government and Terengganu government for the elephant conservation programme here.
Wan Junaidi said currently the estimated elephant population in Peninsular Malaysia was between 1,220 and 1,680, out of which 120 to 140 were in Terengganu.
He said if no efforts were made to conserve the elephants, it was not impossible that in Peninsular Malaysia, the animal could become extinct.
The minister said that land development activities for agricultural and development purposes were affecting the permanent habitats of wild elephants.
He said according to the Wildlife Department, between 2011 and 2015, there were 2,620 complaints on elephant intrusions and out of these, 13.32 per cent were reported to have occurred in Terengganu.
Earlier, in his speech, Junaidi said he was thankful to the Terengganu government for its efforts in conserving elephants by gazetting a 15,000ha area as the Wildlife Conservation Park and gazetting 100ha for the Sungai Deka Elephant Conservation Centre, managed by the Terengganu Wildlife Department.
He said under the MoU signed, the Wildlife Department and the Terengganu government would cooperate to resolve the problem of conflicts between humans and elephants, as well as to work on the conservation programme for 10 years.
“We also agreed to add 18 more elephants at the KECV which now has 12 elephants,” he said. – Bernama