JOHOR BARU: The Johor Elephant Sanctuary in Kota Tinggi is expected to be operational by the end of this year.
The 72.9ha sanctuary, which is located along Jalan Lombong near the famous Kota Tinggi Waterfall, was supposed to start operations in June.
However, development on the project was delayed for a few months due to the Covid-19 pandemic and ensuing movement control order (MCO).
Johor Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director Salman Saaban said the sanctuary development project would be completed by the end of this year.
“The construction of the sanctuary is more than 90% complete and once it is done, the state Drainage and Irrigation Department will hand it over to us.
“We hope the sanctuary can open by this year, ” he said when contacted.
The first phase of the RM15mil elephant sanctuary, which was expected to provide a safe home to about 15 elephants, will also double up as a tourist attraction for nature lovers to get close to the jumbos.
It was previously reported that a 13km stretch of electric fencing was to be erected from Kampung Sri Lukut and Kampung Mawai to the sanctuary.
In a Facebook post, state health and environment committee chairman R. Vidyananthan said he visited the sanctuary to find out its construction status.
“I have asked the relevant agencies involved in the project to make sure the elephant sanctuary project stays on schedule, ” he added.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated matter, Salman said it was unlikely for elephants to enter human habitats during rainy season unless they were looking for food.
He added that change in weather patterns including heavy rain would not influence the elephants’ migratory path as they would remain in the forest.
“However, when a human comes across an elephant or any wild animal, please do not provoke it or try to approach it as this is extremely dangerous, ” he said.
He cited a recent case where a 56-year-old security guard died after being attacked by wild elephants in a sand mining area at Batu 6, near Simpang Perani-Mawai in Kota Tinggi on July 27.
Salman said the department went to investigate and upon arriving at the scene, found out that the premises had a large number of dogs.
“The elephants could have been startled or gotten angry as the barking of the dogs could have scared them, leading to the attack on the man.
“This is why we should not provoke wild animals, especially those that are large, as it may end up being a fatal mistake, ” he added.
Johor’s forests are home to about 140 wild elephants, with the majority of them in Segamat, Kluang, Mersing and Kota Tinggi.
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