HUMAN ELEPHANT CONFLICT IN PENINSULAR MALAYSIA
Nasharuddin bin Othman (Department of Wildlife & National Parks Peninsular Malaysia – DWNP)
Mr. Nasharuddin first presented an overview of the elephant population in Peninsular Malaysia, as well as its biological profile. There is an estimated 1200-1400 individuals in the Peninsular, with most of them in Taman Negara. Elephants are totally protected under the Wildlife Conservation Act 2010 and listed as Endangered by the IUCN Red List.
Human Elephant Conflicts (HECs) have been reported in Peninsular Malaysia as early as 1960, when their culling was the norm. The Elephant Capture Unit was then established in 1974, followed by the National Elephant Conservation Centre in 1990. The elephant mitigation method used was elephant drive / control through trained mahouts.
With development encroaching into the elephant’s natural territories, the number of HEC cases have increased. The main threats were timber logging, forest clearance for agricultural activities and urbanization that caused habitat fragmentation. Most of the HEC cases are recorded in Johor, according to PERHILITAN’s statistics (2006-2015), and the majority of the HECs are due to crop raiding by the elephant. The locations mostly affected are orchards (32% of HEC cases) and plantations (29%).
The speaker listed recommended methods to mitigate HECs, which include translocation and electric fencing. Over 800 translocation programmes have been conducted since 1974, with the most recorded in Pahang. However, translocation is the most unpopular HEC mitigation method in Peninsular Malaysia (3% of HEC action taken). The most popular was ‘drive shooting’ (the use of firearms to frighten and ward off encroaching elephants), followed by monitoring. The recommendations to address the HEC issue over the long term was to establish larger protected areas / sanctuaries for elephants, as well as more research efforts and public awareness, especially amongst affected stakeholders.
This paper was presented at the “Biodiversity Forum 2016“, with the theme “Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation and Action in the Agricultural Sector” jointly organized by Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) with Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN) in Awana Genting Resort on 23rd – 24th May 2016.
Human Elephant Conflict in Peninsular Malaysia
Reviewed by: Michael Ng Foo Yuen