PETALING JAYA: Rampaging elephants are destroying Orang Asli community farms in Pos Simpor near Gua Musang, Kelantan, sparking fears of famine during the coming rainy season.
Villagers in Kampung Jader, Kampung Penad and Kampung Ceranok claimed that logging and land-clearing activities in the Balah Forest Reserve had forced the elephants out of their normal habitat, leaving them to forage for food in villages.
Jaringan Kampung Orang Asli Wilayah Tanah Adat Pos Simpor chairman Nur Mohd Syafiq Dendi Abdullah said the elephants had been destroying the community’s self-sustainable farms since July.“Our tapioca, pumpkin, corn and banana plants have been destroyed, affecting over 200 people from 48 households here.
“We fear the worst during the rainy season as it will be difficult for us to go to town in Gua Musang to get our grocery supplies.“We have always relied on our own food crops, especially during the rainy season when the towns are flooded and we are locked down in the jungle, ” he added.
He expressed concerns that with no tapioca and corn to eat, the villagers might be malnourished and susceptible to diseases.
“We hope the authorities will help us resolve this problem soon as it will take several months to grow tapioca before the year-end flood season, ” he said.
Mohd Syafiq added that in the past, they could easily scare the pachyderms away using smoke and bonfire.
“But nowadays, the elephants do not care if we make loud noises using all sorts of tools. The elephants are no longer fearful of people, smoke or noise.
“Elephants and tigers are actually shy animals that stay away from people. They only dare to come near us when they are desperate for food. We can’t blame them as they, too, are hungry.
“This would not happen if the authorities impose sustainable policies to protect the jungle and wildlife, ” he said.
Kelantan Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) director Ady Ermanty Haniff Mohamed Hanif said personnel from Gua Musang were deployed to the site on July 19, a day after the Orang Asli Development Department lodged a complaint.“But they could not access the site because of the badly damaged logging track, ” he said, adding that Perhilitan would continue to monitor the elephant intrusion in Pos Simpor.
He also ruled out the option of relocating the elephants as the 14-tonne trailer needed to ferry them (two at a time) could not ply the non-tarred logging track.
“The only access to the location is through the logging track, which stretches 45km, ” he noted.
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