New Straits Times

Felda Tenggaroh 1 folk ‘unsettled’ over trail of elephant destructio­n

- MERSING Bernama

THE constant presence of wild elephants in Felda Tenggaroh 1, near here, has left settlers at their wits’ end on what action to take. The mammals are believed to have damaged oil palm plantation­s and caused hundreds of thousands of ringgit in losses in the past three years.

Felda Tenggaroh 1 settlers’ head Saimin Tarikat said the disruption­s caused by the elephants led to 77 settlers incurring almost RM300,000 in costs due to replanting, operations and estimated revenue for three years.

Apart from damaging crops, he said, the wild animals also encroached the settlers’ homes, causing grave concerns for the safety of the community.

On Jan 22, the herd was spotted near the settlers’ homes and two weeks later, at their oil palm plantation­s. The recent encroachme­nts were on May 31 and June 3.

Nearly 5,000 oil palm trees had been destroyed in the past three years.

“Numerous complaints had been made to the authoritie­s, but no action had been taken so far,” said Saimin.

“This problem of elephant (encroachme­nt) is not new in this area. We hope that the authoritie­s will take immediate action before the situation worsens.”

He said officials from the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) and the district office visited the affected areas and had a briefing session with the people’s representa­tives on Feb 15.

Johor Perhilitan director Salman Saaban said the “conflict” area comprised the roaming place of about 20 to 30 Jemaluang elephants.

He said the animals also roamed the Jemaluang Permanent Food Production Park, Felda Gugusan Tenggaroh, Ladang Aramijaya, Risda Sungai Ambat, Ladang Universiti Malaya and Jemaluang town.

“Only one male elephant has been identified so far. Usually, the elephants moved in a group.

“Felda Tenggaroh has been an elephant route since time immemorial, covering the affected plantation area, as well as the Jemaluang and Tenggaroh forest reserves up to Tanjung Leman.”

In an earlier meeting with the Felda Tenggaroh estate management, Salman said, they reached an agreement that a ditch to ward off the elephants would be built by Felda while Perhilitan would raise the money for the installati­on of mobile electric fences in the area.

Perhilitan Johor also carried out night patrols along with the estate management personnel at locations where the elephants entered the area.

“As an immediate measure, the department will conduct an operation to capture the elephants once the current elephant relocation programme in Simpang Renggam has been completed.

“I advise residents not to take action on their own or provoke the animals that entered their plantation­s. They must report the matter to Perhilitan.”

Salman said his department had received 32 complaints on elephant-human conflicts, with 20 in Mersing.

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