Sabah Mulls 10 Year Plan To Stop Elephants From Going Extinct


Sabah will double its efforts on elephant conservation under the proposed 10-year action plan. (Bernama pic)KOTA KINABALU: A 10-year action plan to increase the conservation efforts of Sabah’s shrinking pygmy elephant population is on the cards as the state still reeling from the senseless killing of the animal recently
Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew said the paper work for the Sabah Elephant Conservation Action Plan 2020-2030 has been completed and will be presented to the Cabinet by the end of the year or early next year for approval
“If approved, it will double our efforts on elephant conservation. It is sad that Sabah is down to only about 2,000 elephants in the entire state. You can’t find Borneo pygmy elephants anywhere in the world but only in Borneo
“We don’t want the elephants to suffer the same fate as the Sumatran rhinos. In the 1960s, we used to have about 100 rhinos but we have only one. The last one is also not doing well,” she told reporters at the Sabah PKR office in Penampang near here today
Liew said the action plan will not only focus on conservation and protection of elephants but will also look into assisting them in reproduction
She said the number of forest rangers and veterinarians will be increased to assist in the rescue and treatment of elephants caught in the human-animal conflict areas
“We only have about 60 rangers and 14 offices to cover vast areas of forest reserves. This is not enough
“Very often, we receive an alert that some elephants are destroying crops in a plantation. By the time our rangers arrive, the animals have already destroyed the crops and disappeared or they have been poisoned or killed
“With additional rangers and veterinarians, we can rescue and treat the elephants,” she said
In the meantime, she said the government will leave it to the wildlife authorities to complete their probe into the latest killing of a bull pygmy elephant in Beluran on the Sabah east coast
Food corridorLiew, who is also Sabah’s tourism, culture and environment minister, said another feature of the action plan is to seek the cooperation of large palm oil players to allocate land for a food corridor
The proposal calls for the creation of a foot path 8ha to 12ha wide leading to an open area of about 400ha cultivated with plants for the elephants to feed on
“The elephants won’t have to come to their plantations anymore,” she said
She said elephants forage in plantation areas because the plantation owners “take away their forest”
“They used to live in the forest with an abundance of food. When they have nowhere to go and are hungry, they will return to the plantations and destroy the crops aside from eating them,” she said
Strict liability clausesLiew said the state government will amend the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 to include strict liability clauses to make it the responsibility of land owners to prove their innocence whenever an elephant is found dead on or near their land
She said the amendment will be carried out after the federal government has amended the Wildlife Conservation Act
The federal government, she said, is looking into amending its laws to impose stiffer penalties on crime against wildlife animals in view of the recent killing of elephants in Sabah
Natural museumLiew also said Sabah is planning to build the country’s first natural museum
“We will display the indigenous plants and animals of the state. The plan has been drawn up and we are looking for a suitable site,” she said. - FMT

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