KOTA KINABALU: Borneo pygmy elephants and other endangered wildlife in Sabah may soon have more space to roam free thanks to a partnership between a plantation company and the state government.
A Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) between Genting Plantations Berhad and Sabah Wildlife Department would see the former set aside 44.5ha of oil palm plantation land for wildlife conservation.
Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Christina Liew said the effort would see elephants and other wildlife having more spaces to roam.
"It is giving them an undisturbed area to go to, reducing the risk of human-elephant conflict or walking into snare traps which have caused many elephant deaths," she said.
She said this during a press conference after officiating at the Umbrelephant Campaign aimed at creating more awareness and efforts to protect elephants here Monday (Aug 27).
Liew said the MoA would act as a pioneer project and hopefully encourage more plantations and estate owners to take part.
"We hope this can help protect and prevent any more elephant and wildlife deaths," she said, adding there were only some 2,000 Borneo pygmy elephants left in Sabah.
Meanwhile, she said the campaign, which is also being introduced in schools, is seen as a catalyst to instil a love for animal protection amongst students.
"We want to start them from young and hope to get all schools in Sabah to jump on board with us," Liew said.
There are so far five schools from the outskirts that have signed up to be part of the campaign.
In other developments, she said wildlife officials were making "aggressive efforts" to find and remove snare traps near forest reserves and estates.
"We want to also bring plantation owners together in this effort and have them take action against their employees (if any) who set up snare traps," Liew added.
Dozens of pygmy elephants in Sabah's east coast have been found dead while many were rescued from snare traps over the past eight months.