Sahabat Alam Malaysia views the death of 10 pygmy elephants at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve as the worst disaster to have happened in 2013. Nothing is more poignant than the sight of an elephant calf tugging at its dead mother – a heart wrenching sight that is certain to tug at the heartstrings of even the most hard-hearted person.
SAM condemns the killing of the innocent defenseless animals whose lives are seriously at stake due to encroachment from all sides into the elephant habitats. At a time when wildlife are seriously threatened from all forms of human activities can we afford to lose our valuable heritage?
Must Sabah wait for death to take place before coming out with a proper management plan to seriously look into the problem of human-wildlife conflict? It is not just making a hue and cry over this incidental loss and assuring the public of in depth investigation only to have a recurrence in the near future.
Oil palm plantations are often adjacent to wildlife habitat and the only routes available for the elephants are passing through villages and the fields of local farmers, who bear the brunt of the conflict. With much land taken by plantations there is far less natural habitat available to the elephants, as not all forested land is available to the elephants. Furthermore traditional respect for elephants in these areas are being sorely tested.
Poisoning of elephants is the most cruel inhumane form of treatment meted out carried out by those whose only intent is to avenge for the loss of crops without an understanding of how elephants need space for movement.
SAM calls on the Sabah Wildlife Department and the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry to carry out an in-depth investigation leaving no stone unturned and to penalise severely the culprit responsible for the carnage of the elephants.
Meanwhile, there is need to reduce the level of conflict between human activities and elephants, and enhance community engagement in the conservation of elephants and their habitat.
S M Mohamed Idris