Call to protect elephants

Call to protect elephants
Up close and personal: Visitors playing with elephants at the National Elephant Conservation Centre in Kuala Gandah, Pahang.

PETALING JAYA - The Government should immediately come up with a plan to solve the problem of elephants losing their habitat to protect the endangered species in Malaysia, said the World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Malaysia.

This is in line with World Elephant Day today, which aims to honour elephants, spread awareness of the critical threats they face and support solutions to ensure their survival.

WWF-Malaysia chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius S.K. Sharma said there was an immediate need for the Government to implement a robust and effective plan to stop the loss of elephant habitat.

"In Sabah, elephants lose their habitats due to the development of plantations.

"Some elephants also mistake oil palm plantations for forests and feed on the crops.

"While some companies report this to the Wildlife and National Parks Department, there are some that chase the elephants away using illegal means," he said.

Dr Dionysius said some companies chase away elephants by using firecrackers and installing electric fences.

In January last year, 14 elephants were found dead at a forest reserve in Sabah's interior after they were believed to have been poisoned.

There are about 1,500 Borneo elephants in east Malaysia and about 2,000 other elephants in peninsular Malaysia.

Less than 400,000 African elephants and less than 40,000 Asian elephants are left in the world.

This year is the third annual World Elephant Day since it was launched on Aug 12, 2012 by the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation and Canadian documentary filmmaker Patricia Sims.

According to a press release on the event, it is estimated that 100 African elephants are slaughtered daily for illegal wildlife trade and poaching for ivory had reached "unprecedented levels".

"Some 20 per cent of Africa's elephants may be killed in the next 10 years if poaching continues at current levels.

"Others believe that African elephants may be extinct in the wild by 2025," the statement said.

Malaysian Nature Society (MNS) president Prof Dr Maketab Mohamed also called for a stop to the destruction of elephant habitats, especially along the Central Forest Spine so that herds can move and feed undisturbed by humans.

"Conservation of our flora and fauna is no rocket science. The willingness to do it must come with the political will and there can be no two ways about it," he said.

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