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KOTA KINABALU: Elephant-human conflicts are increasing in Sabah’s east coast with more land being opened up for agricultural purposes.
There is growing concern among wildlife officials because the latest case last week happened barely two kilometres away from Lahad Datu town.
“We expect to see all areas from Sandakan towards south Kalabakan up to Sapulut, Maliau Basin, becoming hotbeds for such encounters,” said Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga.
On March 19, two bull Borneo pygmy elephants damaged oil palm crops and ate fruits grown by villagers.
The elephants were tracked down in a five-day search and were moved to the Kawag forest reserve last Sunday.
Tuuga said such encounters between man and animal often result in loss of crops and even injuries involving both parties.
“We have records of such incidents with the animal or human injured or attacked. We are still compiling the cases in each district,” he said.
The situation, he said, would worsen if the animals had nowhere else to go due to rapid development.
To address the problem, Tuuga advised estate and plantation operators to install electric fences.
In 2013, 10 elephants were translocated in the Bikang area of Lahad Datu.
Last year, 24 elephants were translocated after they were found roaming in an area between Kampung Sri Putatan and Kampung Binuang, less than 10km from Lahad Datu.
There are an estimated 1,500 to 2,000 elephants in Sabah.