PROTECTING OUR GENTLE GIANTS
More awareness needed to help endangered species, says WWF Malaysia
ELEPHANTS are fast disappearing from the jungles in Malaysia due to declining habitat and poaching. Elephants are considered the world’s most intelligent, sensitive animals and possess both empathy and self-awareness.
Due to the increasing number of threats caused by human activities, development and industrial mono-crops, their natural habitat and migration routes have been fragmented.
The mammals are categorised as keystone species as they create and maintain the ecosystem. The decreasing numbers of the mammals will greatly affect the biodiversity of the environment and will cause major habitat chaos.
According to International Union for Conservation of Nature’s red list of threatened species, Malaysian jungles used to have at least 4,000 elephants roaming freely 30 years ago.
However, due to pre-eminent threats such as habitat loss, degradation, poaching and fragmentation, the overall population of elephants in the country has declined by half over the past three generations.
The wild elephants in Malaysian jungles are now concentrated in Pahang, Terengganu, Kelantan, Kedah, Perak, Johor and Negri Sembilan.
The biggest elephant count has been recorded in Taman Negara, which has an estimated 290 to 631 elephants.
The decrease in elephant population was caused by hunters hunting for its ivory, food consumption, leather and other products.
World Wildlife Fund Malaysia spokesperson Dr Cheryl Cheah said the country needed to have more awareness to protect the elephants, especially in Sabah as Borneo elephants were being poached for their tusks.
“Everyone needs to have appreciation for Malaysia’s green heritage such as its wildlife and accept that wildlife and humans have equal rights to call this country their home,” she said.
She urged the public to report suspicious activities to the authorities for further action.
“If you see elephant meat, tusk or ivory carvings being sold, or other suspicious activities, please report it to the authorities as we need everyone to be our eyes and ears,” she added.
Meanwhile, as part of ExportImport Bank (Exim Bank) Malaysia’s Corporate Social Responsibility environmental programme, the public can obtain information about the elephants, its characteristics, natural habitat and issues facing them at Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre (NECC).
In conjunction with World Elephant Day today, Exim Bank has refurbished NECC’s information centre, produced brochures about the mammals and sponsored a prostatic leg for a disabled elephant named Selendang.