Kota Kinabalu: WWF-Malaysia has frowned on the State Wildlife Department’s killing of a bull elephant in Tawau in a Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) as it impacts the shrinking population of Sabah’s pachyderms.
“Therefore the death of one member is a huge blow to the whole population,” he said.
The Department confirmed that the culled bull was in musth, a period where male elephants are known to exhibit aggressive behaviour and, consequently, are susceptible to provocation.
Therefore, those working or living in areas inhabited by elephants need to remain alert of their surroundings, particularly during dawn and after3pm when elephants are known to be more active. When confronting elephants, restraint must be practised and retribution avoided, as killing elephants merely addresses the symptom of a problem, which is HEC caused by unsustainable land use planning in Sabah.
WWF said the incident highlights the sense of urgency for HEC to be mitigated strategically.
WWF-Malaysia is currently working on joint mitigation options to reduce HEC with state agencies such as Sabah Wildlife Department and Sabah Forestry Department, and plantation companies via the Kalabakan HEC working group in Tawau.
While its complex nature means that there is no one-size-fits-all solution for HEC, some of the science-based solutions that WWF-Malaysia have been recommending include strategic placement of electric fences and wildlife corridors that link fragmented forests,” said Dr Sharma.
WWF noted that one of the Sabah Government’s commitments to conservation was its intention to create a wildlife corridor for Borneo elephants in the Heart of Borneo.
It said culling a threatened species when other options are available is a step backwards in the State’s journey to sustainability and hoped a precedent for future HEC mitigation had not been set with the killing.
Meanwhile, a picture of circulating in social media of an elephant attack in Tawau where a foreign worker was trampled to death shows what appears to be the worker standing too close to a herd of the animals.