LED lights being used to prevent elephants destroying crops (Malaysia)


TN Alagesh, New Straits Times

Date Published

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KUANTAN: After digging trenches and putting up solar-powered electric fences, the state Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has introduced an unique solution to keep elephants from encroaching human settlements.

LED lights are being utilised to prevent rampaging elephants from destroying farmer’s crops. The method which was introduced in Kuala Medang in Lipis several months ago has shown promising results.

State Perhilitan director Ahmad Azhar Mohammad said the solar-powered LED (light-emitting diodes) bulbs had resulted in a 90 per cent drop in elephant encroachment into agricultural land or villages during the night.

“The technique was first used in Pahang and so far 30 units have been installed. The method will be expanded to other conflict areas and we are looking into further improving the technique.

“Sadly, some irresponsible individuals have been removing the LED lights and this is a setback to the department’s efforts to prevent the mammals from destroying farms and fruits trees. I hope villagers will cooperate with Perhilitan to tackle the problems,” he said today.

The LED bulbs are tied to wooden poles so that elephants can see them from a distance.

It was learnt that elephants keep away from getting close to flashing lights instead of fixed or powerful lights.

Each LED unit has a built-in solar charger thus making the lights maintenance free, low cost and can be setup with minimum support.

It was learnt that the LED method, which was widely used in farms in India, was still in the early stages of its implementation in Pahang and farmers were keen to learn about the method.

Perhilitan had previously deployed various efforts to minimise the elephant threats including building solar-powered fences which deliver jolts of up to 12 kilovolts, digging trenches, and carrying out the capture and relocate programme.

On a separate matter, Ahmad Azhar said the herd of elephants spotted walking in an oil palm plantation in Kota Gelanggi, Jerantut several days ago was believed to have been separated into two groups.

“The herd was walking along their usual track towards its habitat but upon noticing a group of people watching them from a bridge, two of the elephants separated and were believed to have returned towards the village.

“Although people were standing far away it makes our job to chase the animals back to their habitat more difficult and might now require more time,” he said, referring to the incident on Aug 29 where several motorists stopped their vehicles upon spotting the elephants walking below the bridge.