KUANTAN – The Peninsular Malaysia Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) in Pahang estimates the number of elephants affected by the human-elephant conflict in Pahang to be 171.
Its director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said the elephants were usually sighted in Jerantut, Lipis and Bentong, and sometimes invaded agricultural farms or villages to forage for food.
He said Perhilitan was doing what it presently could and needed time to resolve the issue which was a recurring problem as the elephants were constantly on the move.
“The problem arose because the elephants’ habitat is becoming smaller due to development and agriculture; when we receive a complaint, we will go to the village concerned to drive them out and ensure that both the villagers and elephants don’t feel threatened by each other.
“But this can be difficult because sometimes when we arrive at the village, the elephants have already left the place and later we will hear complaints of their presence in another area,” he said.
Ahmad Azhar said this when asked to comment on fears expressed by residents at Kampung Paya Garuk, Jerantut near here on the presence of wild elephants in the area at midnight a few days ago.
He noted that the Jerantut district officer as well as the state assemblyman had raised the issue a number of times and and that some proposals had been put forward and were being studied.
“One of the proposals is satellite detection to monitor the movement of the elephants. But this has to be planned meticulously as it involves cost and safety of personnel.
“The same goes for the proposal to relocate the elephants, because it entails looking for a really suitable area, and transferring the animals to the place is not easy as wild elephants usually move in herds,” he said.
According to him, the task of capturing the elephants for transfer lay with Perhilitan while the operation to relocate the animals was the responsibility of the National Elephant Conservation Centre in Kuala Gandah, Temerloh.
“Roping the elephants is no mean task because we are not only facing their physical strength, but also geographical factors.
“The elephants are constantly moving…after entering a village they will return to the forest and it is not easy for us to bring them out..we also have to consider the safety of our personnel,” he said.
Ahmad Azhar advised residents not to take matters into their own hands and report any case to Perhilitan.
“We have sent officers to monitor areas with regular presence of elephants. From there we can trace the elephants’ tracks and calculate where they would go next.
“If they are heading towards a village, we can warn residents to take precautionary measures. Our priority is safety of the community and also to ensure that the elephants do not feel threatened, which could lead to further dilemma,” he said. – BERNAMA