ELEPHANTS have caused damage to some 4,000 oil palm trees involving thousands of ringgit in losses for 225 Felda Lok Heng Timur settlers in Kota Tinggi since 2019.
Felda Lok Heng Timur manager Mohd Aswat Othman said settlers were unable to enjoy maximum yield of the fruits due to damaged trees.
“Elephants have been coming to our plantation for the past three years but the incidents increased in the past month.
“The plantation’s management has received more complaints from settlers regarding the elephants and taken several proactive measures to address their concerns, ” he added.
Mohd Aswat said the measures included building trenches with the hope of stopping the mammal from entering and damaging the crops.
“But the elephants are very smart and are able to find ways to get in and out of the trenches, ” he noted.
He said the management now planned to dig deeper trenches in an effort to stop future conflicts from happening.
He said requests had also been made to the Federal Land Development Authority (Felda) to build electric fences around the plantation and he hoped approval would be given soon.
Mohd Aswat said that besides monitoring plantation areas, settlers had forwarded their complaints to the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan).
“We hope a proper win-win solution is found that takes into account both the settlers’ and elephants’ well-being, ” he said.
Meanwhile, Johor Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) vice-president Vincent Chow urged the government to carry out a study on elephants to help address recurrent conflict with humans.
“Elephants are migratory animals and they have been using the same route for a very long time in search of food such as wild bananas and bamboos deep in the jungle.
“It is unfair to put the blame solely on elephants as they are important to our ecosystem, just like any other wildlife living in the jungle, ” he stressed.
Chow also said elephants required large areas to roam freely and the area must be abundant with food to ensure they would not stray into human settlements.
“If we continue to develop forest land for plantations or housing projects, then elephants and other wild animals have no other choice but to enter places where humans reside.
“This is why there must be a proper study done on a long-term solution to the elephant-human conflict, ” he said.