JOHOR BARU: Work on the Johor Elephant Sanctuary (JES) in Kota Tinggi is 45% complete and the first phase is expected to finish by August this year.
Johor health, environment, education and information committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said the RM15mil sanctuary was being built to address the conflict between wild elephants and humans in Kluang and Kota Tinggi.
He said JES was an urgent requirement following the encroachment of wild elephants in villages there and would give priority to aggressive elephants that were damaging surrounding plantations.
Ayub added that through the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) records, there were 70 wild elephants roaming Johor’s forests where 45 of them were deemed problematic.
“The difficult ones will be brought to JES for training before they are released into the forest,” he said.
Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) Johor chairman Vincent Chow said JES could not permanently solve the conflict between elephants and humans, but more studies should be done to find a better solution.
“Elephants are wandering animals and they will move from one forest to another.
“The problem is humans have been slowly encroaching into the elephants’ traditional path via development or plantations.
“It is not the elephants’ fault because these are their usual routes,” said Chow, adding that no matter how long these wild elephants were trained, they would go back to following instinct when they return to the forest.
“Elephants need bigger territory and the Johor National Park is a good location because it is far away from any human activity.”
He urged the authorities to work together with MNS or other non-governmental organisations to come up with solutions to these problems.