KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife conservationists are addressing problems of rummaging Borneo pygmy elephants which have destroyed small farms close to the Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah’s east coast Sukau.
HUTAN, a Sabah-based wildlife research and conservation non-governmental organisation (NGO), has a team in Kg Litang, a village close to the reserve, to train locals on how to tackle the animals encroaching into their land.
Its scientific director Marc Acrenaz said villagers are being taught how to approach and chase the wild elephants, which are fully protected, back into the reserve.
Sukau assemblyman Datuk Saddi Abdul Rahman had sought help from the Wildlife Department and NGOs after elephants destroyed 400ha of newly planted commercial crops in the Kg Litang area last month.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the reserve was too big an area to be fenced but was confident the problem could be managed.
He pointed out that most of the rummaging in the areas involved just a few animals.
“It was only that particular raid (last month) where there were two herds with 58 elephants that caused a lot of damage,” he said
He said Kg Litang is located 2kms from the Tabin reserve and easily accessible to its 450 elephants.
Tuuga said wildlife rangers could only help by driving away the animals when they encroached on land outside the reserve.
Acrenaz pointed out these elephants were moving around their natural routes which had been opened up for commercial crops.
“Efforts must be focused on land use planning that includes a forest corridor or save passage for these animals,” he said.
He said conflicts between elephants and humans in the Lower Kinabatangan area were resolved through a forest corridor set up by the Wildlife Department and the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC).
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