Minimising conflict between humans and elephants

A filepic showing an elephant wandering into Kampung Lukut in Kota Tinggi. Once in operation, JES is expected to reduce such instances of elephants entering populated areas.

JOHOR BARU: The Johor Elephant Sanctuary (JES) will be beneficial to both the largest land animal in South-East Asia and humans as it is designed to reduce conflicts between them.

State Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) director Salman Saaban said the 57.23ha land, located near Kampung Panti in Kota Tinggi, was expected to be completed this year.

“Elephants are migratory animals and in Johor, they have been found moving within four districts - Kota Tinggi, Kluang, Mersing and Segamat.

“The department has identified five elephant groups and their numbers are between 120 and 140 elephants, roaming around in our jungle, ” he said.

Salman added that the department has always been keeping a close watch on the elephants and three units of satellite collars were placed on elephants from the major groups.

He said the main purpose of having the sanctuary was to strengthen elephant management in the state, which would lessen the problems of these wild animals entering agriculture land and populated areas.

Salman pointed out that as stipulated under the National Elephant Conservation Action Plan (NECAP), the habitat for elephants must be increased through management and enrichment.

He said the success of the sanctuary would be shared with residents, providing them with eco tourism opportunities to generate income.

“Some people have the wrong impression about the sanctuary.

“It is not about capturing and caging problematic elephants but a place to rehabilitate these creatures.

“Elephants that might have been hurt when they are captured or from poaching or even a calf that has been separated from its group will be treated at the sanctuary, ” he said, adding that the sanctuary would be able to take in six elephants at a time.

Salman also said the sanctuary had 10ha of grassland, which was able to sustain 20 elephants.

“Besides that, we are also developing a 198ha grassland within the animal migratory corridor that will be able to take in between 40 and 50 elephants as well, ” he added.

He stressed that the sanctuary was expected to lessen human-elephants conflict in Johor by up to 50% within the next five years if the strategic planning could be carried out without a hitch.

Salman said the sanctuary management concept used a holistic approach and it involved conservation of the elephant population in a more suitable habitat, which would indirectly reduce conflicts with humans.

He added that the department was working closely with various quarters such as the state government, villagers, non-governmental organisations and landowners to create awareness of the issue.

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