Crop raider elephant collared in Kinabatangan
A male elephant, estimated to be 55-60 years of age, was captured and collared in Gomantong Plantation, Lower Kinabatangan, last Sunday before it was released into Lot 6 of Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary. This is the second elephant collared using the GSM collar done by Sabah Wildlife Department and WWF-Malaysia as part of the Bornean Biodiversity and Ecosystems Conservation (BBEC) activities, which advocates sustainable approaches for the conservation of endangered biodiversity and ecosystems in Sabah. The BBEC programme runs five years (ending March 2007), and is implemented by the Sabah Government agencies and Universiti Malaysia Sabah, and assisted by Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA). The programme applies an integrated approach to cover four essential areas, which are Research & Education, Park Management, Habitat Management and Public Awareness.
The elephant was believed to be trapped in a small forest patch, Hutan Simpan Pusat Penyelidikan Jabatan Pertanian, during the October 2006 flood.
Senior Manager of Gomantong Sdn. Bhd. (a TSH group member), Mr. Sam Jik Gze thanked the Sabah Wildlife Department (led by Dr. Symphorosa Sipangkui) and WWF-Malaysia (led by Raymond Alfred) for coordinating the capture, satellite-fitting and translocating of the elephant from the said area. He also thanked other agencies who have assisted during the operation; namely, KOCP (Kinabatangan Orang-utan Conservation Project) and Agricultural Department. He said that for the last five months, he lost about 200-300 oil palm trees, while the adjacent Linndale Sdn. Bhd. plantation lost more than 3,000 oil palm trees.
Raymond, Project Manager for WWF-Malaysia’s SOREL Project (Sabah Orang-utan, Rhinoceros and Elephant Landscape), said that ‘Mr. Gomantong’, the name given to the eighth collared elephant in Sabah, was isolated from his group since the flood season. He described Gomantong as one from the “crop raider” group of elephants in Kinabatangan. It is important to study their behaviour and movement in the Lower Kinabatangan River Region. However, he added that translocation of the elephant is not the recommended solution in dealing with elephants in conflict with humans, especially in the fragmented forest in Lower Kinabatangan River region. Translocation is only a temporary solution and there is a need to have a long-term solution in order to reduce the elephant conflict issues in this area. The long-term solution recognises the movement corridor of the elephant population in the Lower Kinabatangan River region. According to Raymond, the elephant was located 3-4 km from the main road (Sandakan – Lahad Datu) near Kg Paris 2 and about 13-15 km from the nearest Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary areas (Lot 6).
Raymond added that the elephant population in Kinabatangan (ranging from 120 to 130) is mainly separated from the main population in central forest of Sabah, referred to as “Heart of Borneo”, due to the presence of the Sandakan – Lahad Datu main road, including Kg Batu Putih and Kg Paris 1 and 2. There is a need to develop a long-term action plan in order to address this issue.
For further information:
Hana S. Harun, Communications Officer, Heart of Borneo, WWF-Malaysia
Tel: 088-262-420, Email: HSHarun@wwf.org.my