Wild an­i­mals have equal right to life

New Straits Times - - LETTERS - TAN SRI LEE LAM THYE,

to a re­cent in­ci­dent where an ele­phant was killed in an early-morn­ing crash with a trailer at Batu 13 in Jalan Mers­ing-Kota Tinggi, Jo­hor.

In­ves­ti­ga­tions found that the in­ci­dent hap­pened when the driver of an­other car switched on his high beam when he saw ele­phants cross­ing the road.

His ac­tion star­tled a fe­male ele­phant, which charged at an on­com­ing trailer trav­el­ling from Tereng­ganu to Sin­ga­pore, re­sult­ing in the ele­phant’s death.

On Aug 25 last year, two tapirs were killed when they were hit by a car while at­tempt­ing to cross the Gebeng by­pass road near Kuan­tan.

On Aug 23, a 10-year-old ele­phant bull died af­ter it was struck by a bus in the Gerik-Jeli High­way. The in­ci­dent oc­curred about two months af­ter an ele­phant calf was killed when a car col­lided with it in the same area near the Royal Belum State Park.

The Wildlife and Na­tional Parks Depart­ment said from 2012 to last year, 2,444 wild an­i­mals were killed by ve­hi­cles. These in­ci­dents hap­pened de­spite signs warn­ing mo­torists about wildlife cross­ings.

Wildlife and ve­hi­cles just do not mix and the con­struc­tion of more roads in wildlife habi­tats means that more an­i­mals may be killed.

The au­thor­i­ties must tackle wildlife road­kill.

Hu­man be­havioural change will re­duce road­kill.

There must be pub­lic ed­u­ca­tion and aware­ness ef­forts to en­cour­age the pub­lic to ap­pre­ci­ate wildlife.

Road users should never pro­voke wild an­i­mals by honk­ing or turn­ing on their high beam to avoid star­tling them.

Sites must be iden­ti­fied to en­able more an­i­mal cross­ings to be built across high­ways and roads that pass through an­i­mal habi­tats or mi­gra­tion routes.

Speed bumps and speed cam­eras should be in­stalled as well as light-coloured roads in wildlif­erich ar­eas to re­duce road­kill.

Au­thor­i­ties should fol­low the so­lu­tions in­tro­duced in ad­vanced coun­tries to re­duce road­kill, in­clud­ing in­stalling de­tec­tors that will trig­ger flash­ing signs when an­i­mals are de­tected near roads.

In South Amer­ica, re­flec­tive stick­ers are placed on GPS col­lars on tapirs so that the an­i­mals are eas­ily spot­ted in the dark.

Tapirs and ele­phants are at risk as they cross roads to look for food.

With the help of IT ex­perts, the au­thor­i­ties could de­velop an app that worked with other apps, such as Waze and Google Maps, to warn driv­ers about wildlife.

Hu­man be­havioural change is cru­cial to avoid crashes with an­i­mals as not all wildlife will use viaducts or cross­ings.

Like hu­mans, wildlife have a right to co-ex­is­tence.

I sup­port the Sabah hov­ern­ment’s de­ci­sion to re­view log­ging con­ces­sions in crit­i­cal ar­eas where dead pygmy ele­phants have been dis­cov­ered re­cently.

It was re­ported that the car­casses of six en­dan­gered Bornean pygmy ele­phants, aged be­tween 1 and 37, were dis­cov­ered in the state in April and last month. The deaths have raised con­cerns about the well­be­ing of the ele­phants, which num­ber around 2,000.

Pa­tron, Se­lan­gor So­ci­ety for the Pre­ven­tion of Cru­elty to An­i­mals, Kuala Lumpur

COUR­TESY OF READER PIC

An ele­phant cross­ing a road in Kin­abatan­gan, Sabah, this week.

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