PETALING JAYA: Four elephants were used on a three-day journey through the Krau wildlife reserve in Pahang to help deliver food essentials to the Che Wong Orang Asli villages deep in the jungle.
The trek – up to eight hours to the last village belonging to the tribe in Kampung Senil – was undertaken with four elephants – Kasturi, Alam, Abot and Timur – and a 12-man team from the National Elephant Conservation Centre in Kuala Gandah.
The mission to send food to some 20 Orang Asli families in four villages – Kampung Baek, Kampung Senil, Kampung Asli Serluh and Kampung Lata Tujuh – took place from April 18 to 20 during the third phase of the movement control order (MCO).
The Krau wildlife reserve is under the management of the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan).
According to the department, the elephants had to trek from Kuala Gandah to Kampung Senil as both Kampung Asli Serluh and Kampung Lata Tujuh were too deep in the jungle.
“Lata Tujuh is too difficult to reach using elephants because there are many rocky walls. Villagers from the two villages had to receive their food aid in Kampung Senil.
“The elephants were then placed in the jungle and rested for a whole day before embarking on the trip home to Kuala Gandah on the third day, ” it said in reply to queries from The Star.
The 12-team from Perhilitan comprised an officer from the centre, nine mahouts and two nature guides from Kuala Gandah.
“Three of the mahouts are from the Che Wong Orang Asli tribe, ” it said.
Perhilitan said besides depending on the forest and planting tapioca, bananas and hill padi for their livelihood, the Orang Asli would usually come out of the jungle around Kuala Gandah to get basic essentials such as food.
“However, their supply has been affected as many of the shops have to close due to the MCO.
“The villages are very isolated in the jungle but part of these are still accessible by motorcycles via jungle lanes.
“The initiative to use the elephants to send essential goods to the Orang Asli was part of a two-pronged strategy.
“It is to carry out our routine elephant patrols while at the same time deliver food to the villagers affected by the lack of supply during the MCO, ” said the department.
“We will continue with the elephant mission to send food depending on the needs of the villagers and contributions from our conservation friends, ” it said.
Perhilitan’s elephant patrol currently consists of five elephants – Sanum, Timur, Kala, Alam and Kasturi – which were rescued and relocated to the centre over 10 years ago.
It is part of the department’s initiative to increase the protection of the reserve against activities like trespassing, poaching and illegal foraging.
On May 8, Perhilitan also delivered food aid to 110 Orang Asli families around Kuala Gandah.
All the essentials were contributed by visitors to the centre.
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