Saturday, October 14, 2017

Malaysia: Sabah Officials Seek Tougher Laws Against Wildlife Poachers

Authorities in Malaysia’s Sabah state said Friday they would press for tougher wildlife laws to battle armed poachers after photos of carcasses of green turtles and Bornean Pygmy elephants were posted online and caught the attention of conservationists.

Sabah, on Borneo island, borders the Malaysian state of Sarawak and Indonesia’s Kalimantan province. It is also home to many endemic wildlife species, such as orangutan and rhinoceros.

Last month, villagers said they discovered the skeletal remains of about 100 green turtles scattered on the beaches on Bum-Bum Island near Semporna, a small town in Sabah. Residents also found two decomposed adult Bornean Pygmy elephants in different locations.

Masidi Manjun, Sabah’s environment and tourism minister, said his department was considering amending the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997, a regional law that aims to protect endangered species in Sabah by imposing severe penalties on poachers.

The amendment would give wildlife laws more bite by changing the way cases play out in court and placing the burden of proof on the accused to present evidence proving one’s innocence.

“With the amendment, it means the accused will have to prove he didn’t kill it [the endangered wildlife animal] because at this point of time, the prosecutors have to come up with evidence to prove a person is guilty and this is not easy,” Masidi told reporters.

Sabah’s Forestry Department said poaching in the state had reached “pandemic proportions” and armed poachers encountered at checkpoints were often masked “and willing and able to inflict harm” on forestry guards.

“Although Forestry Department staff are armed, this is purely for self-protection and they are reluctant to use their licensed firearms against the poachers,” the department said in a statement posted on the homepage of its website. “Besides that, it is to avoid a firefight with the poachers which may result in an ugly scene.”

“The seriousness of this menace needs a concerted effort in unison, starting with the prosecution of the known and big-time perpetrators,” the statement said.

Authorities have arrested and detained at least three people on suspicion of involvement in the multiple slaughter of protected turtles. Officials said poachers would often remove the turtle meat, eggs and soft under shell before leaving the bones and hard-top shell.

Two Indonesian men have also been detained to assist authorities in the killings of the two elephants, officials said.

To read the full article, click on the story title


Friday, October 13, 2017

Killing of wildlife goes on in Sabah

The slaughter of Sabah’s wildlife continued this month with little signs of slowing down as two critically-endangered Bornean pygmy elephants were killed for tusks and at least nine endangered green turtles were found butchered on the east coast.

The killings sent fresh shockwaves through the conservationist community, which appealed to the public to help put a stop to this.

A dead bull elephant was found floating down the Kinabatangan river close to the Danau Girang Research Centre (DGRC) on Monday, while another was found dead at a plantation in the Dumpas area of Kalabakan on Sept 10.

“This cannot go unpunished. We need to bring these criminals to court,” conservationist Dr Benoit Goossens said.


Dr Goossens, the director of the Kinabatangan-based DGRC, said that with fewer than 2,000 elephants in Sabah, the population would be in jeopardy if the killing of mature bulls goes on.

“Elephants are already threatened by habitat loss and conflict with humans. If you add poaching, the species will not survive. We must get rid of the poachers and traders,” he said.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the tusks may be bound for Indonesia, where they are used as dowry in some communities.

On the turtles found on Pulau Bum Bum in Semporna district, he said reports indicated that all nine were stripped of their flesh and the lower shell, called the plastron.

He said the turtle killings may have been committed by members of the same group detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) early this year.

Augustine said the MMEA detained a boat from southern Philippines, with four men on board, bound for Semporna loaded with turtle flesh and plastron. The department prosecuted the four men and they were jailed two years and fined RM100,000 each.

Augustine said the wildlife authorities needed the help of villagers and other agencies in protecting endangered animals.

“The killings have to stop but we cannot do it alone,” he said.

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Sunday, October 01, 2017

No action against driver of bus which rammed into elephant

Police and the the Wildlife Department will not press charges against the driver of a bus which rammed into a 10-year-old male elephant, which died at Km60 Grik-Jeli road last month.
Grik district police chief Supt Ismail Che Isa said the accident was unintentional and there was no case to pursue.

“Elephants and other wild animals roam freely in the area and such incidents occur,” he added.
Perak Wildlife and National Parks principal assistant director Wan Shaharuddin Wan Noordin said: “There are no criminal elements, and the weather at the time of the incident has to be taken into account.

“Based on the driver’s statement, thick fog had limited the vision about one to five metres.
“The driver could not see the elephant when it crossed the road due to the blurred vision,” he told theSun today.

Wan Shaharuddin said post mortem report by a veterinarian revealed the animal died due to respiratory failure, blood loss, fluid accumulation in the lungs and a broken leg.
As for precautionary measures, he said a total of 10 signboards of wild animals crossing including elephants have been erected along the road.

“Apart from the warning signs the signboard also provide guidelines incase motorists run into animals.

“It is written in Bahasa Malaysia for all passing motorists to understand and take the necessary precautions to avoid any untoward incidents,” he added.

Wan Shaharuddin advised motorists to avoid using the road during the night and rain due to poor vision.

According to him, wild animals would often sit on the road to warm their bodies in the night or after rain.

The bus was travelling to Betong, Thailand from Terengganu with 30 passengers onboard when the accident occurred at 5.30am on Aug 24.

The driver and the passengers escaped unhurt.

The impact of the crash caused the a cracked windscreen and damages to the front portion of the bus.

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Sunday, September 24, 2017

LED lights being used to prevent elephants destroying crops

After digging trenches and putting up solar-powered electric fences, the state Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) has introduced an unique solution to keep elephants from encroaching human settlements.

LED lights are being utilised to prevent rampaging elephants from destroying farmer's crops. The method which was introduced in Kuala Medang in Lipis several months ago has shown promising results.

State Perhilitan director Ahmad Azhar Mohammad said the solar-powered LED (light-emitting diodes) bulbs had resulted in a 90 per cent drop in elephant encroachment into agricultural land or villages during the night.

"The technique was first used in Pahang and so far 30 units have been installed. The method will be expanded to other conflict areas and we are looking into further improving the technique.

"Sadly, some irresponsible individuals have been removing the LED lights and this is a setback to the department's efforts to prevent the mammals from destroying farms and fruits trees. I hope villagers will cooperate with Perhilitan to tackle the problems," he said today.

The LED bulbs are tied to wooden poles so that elephants can see them from a distance.

It was learnt that elephants keep away from getting close to flashing lights instead of fixed or powerful lights.

Each LED unit has a built-in solar charger thus making the lights maintenance free, low cost and can be setup with minimum support.

It was learnt that the LED method, which was widely used in farms in India, was still in the early stages of its implementation in Pahang and farmers were keen to learn about the method.

Perhilitan had previously deployed various efforts to minimise the elephant threats including building solar-powered fences which deliver jolts of up to 12 kilovolts, digging trenches, and carrying out the capture and relocate programme.

On a separate matter, Ahmad Azhar said the herd of elephants spotted walking in an oil palm plantation in Kota Gelanggi, Jerantut several days ago was believed to have been separated into two groups.

"The herd was walking along their usual track towards its habitat but upon noticing a group of people watching them from a bridge, two of the elephants separated and were believed to have returned towards the village.

"Although people were standing far away it makes our job to chase the animals back to their habitat more difficult and might now require more time," he said, referring to the incident on Aug 29 where several motorists stopped their vehicles upon spotting the elephants walking below the bridge.

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Friday, September 15, 2017

Elephant pachyderm, dies after tour bus collision at KM 59 of Gerik-Jeli Highway in Malaysia

Some two months after an elephant calf was run over and killed, another pachyderm, this time, a 10-year-old bull, died after it was struck by a bus on the same stretch of the Gerik-Jeli Highway in Malaysia.

This is despite the many signboards put up to warn motorists about elephants and other
wildlife crossing in the area. The elephant was killed after it was hit by the tour bus early yesterday, as it was crossing at Kilometre 59 in Gerik.

Pictures of the carcass at the scene and the bus with its cracked windscreen and damaged
front end were widely shared on social media, angering many animal lovers and
conservationists. Some asked how the driver had failed to spot such a large animal.

Gerik OCPD Supt Ismail Che Isa said the bus was driven by a 62-year-old man and that
the incident occurred about 5km from the Titiwangsa rest stop.

“The bus was going down a slope and heading towards Gerik when the elephant suddenly
came out of the forest. The driver told us he could not brake in time,” he said.

He said the elephant fell over on impact and then got up and walked to the left side of the
highway. It sat there for awhile and then died.

Supt Ismail said the elephant suffered lacerations on its head and back.
“The bus driver and his 33 passengers were not injured,” he said, adding that the Perak
Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) has been informed of the incident.

In June, a two-year-old elephant was crossing the highway and was killed when a car
collided with it.

State Perhilitan director Loo Kean Seong said the area is an elephant habitat and that the
animals are always roaming, no matter the time of day.

“So motorists must be careful and drive cautiously along that stretch. Please also do not
speed,” he said.

The carcass will be sent for a post-mortem and its tusks will be removed before burial.

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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

Clamp down on illegal wildlife parts trade, say groups

The rising cases of Malaysia being a transit point for the illegal wildlife parts trade is serious and has far-reaching consequences including animal extinction in the region.

Pertubuhan Pelindung Khazanah Alam Malaysia president Puan Sri Shariffa Sabrina Syed Akil said more stringent measures should be taken to deter would-be wildlife traffickers.

“The value of the poached animals is rather high resulting in an alarming number of exotic animals killed for commercial gains. This will inevitably diminish the species within years.

“This has to stop, otherwise we will have a crisis on our hands,” Shariffa Sabrina said.


The Aug 29 attempt by an international syndicate using the country’s port as a transit point to smuggle out the cache was thwarted.

Last July, the world’s largest seizure of ivory took place in Hong Kong when more than seven tonnes arrived in a shipping container from Malaysia.

The 7,200kg shipment – valued at RM39.1mil – was uncovered by the authorities in the former British colony, highlighting the huge demand in the illegal ivory trade.

World Wildlife Fund for Nature (Malaysia) CEO and executive director Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma congratulated Customs over the recent confiscation of illegal wildlife parts.

“This is a huge crime against wildlife, especially as elephants and pangolins are also currently threatened by habitat loss and low reproductive rates.

“Each adult female for both species can only produce an offspring at a time and in the case of an elephant, it has the longest pregnancy period of all mammals, which lasts more than a year and a half.

“Therefore, the death of even one member of the species has a major impact on the whole population.

“I call upon the state government of Sabah, and federal agencies to share resources such as manpower and intelligence to clamp down on illegal wildlife trade,” he said in a statement.

Dr Sharma said WWF Malaysia remains committed to fighting wildlife crime by providing technical expertise and sharing information with government agencies, such as the district anti-poaching task force in Sabah.

“We must show the world that we mean business when it comes to the survival of wildlife.

“Therefore, let us all work toget­her so that Sabah will no longer be a transit point for the illegal wildlife trade.

“Together, everything is possible,” he added.


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Saturday, September 09, 2017

Sabah Customs seizes elephant tusks, pangolin scales worth RM80.5 million

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Customs seized three tons of elephant tusks and five tons of pangolin scales, valued at about RM80.5 million, which were believed to be on the way to be smuggled through Sepanggar Port to another country on August 29.

Customs director-general Datuk Seri T. Subromaniam said the 1,148 elephant tusks, worth RM9.9 million, and pangolin scales, valued at RM70.6 million, were seized during a check on two containers declared as containing groundnuts on Aug 30.

"The elephant tusks and pangolin scales are suspected to be from Nigeria, Africa and had passed through the port of a neighbouring country before entering the country," he told reporters here today.

Also present was Sabah Customs director Datuk Hamzah Sundang.

T. Subromaniam said following the confiscation, a 43-year-old man had been remanded under Section 135(1)(A) of the Customs Act 1967 to facilitate investigations on suspicion of importing prohibited items.

He said investigations were also carried out under the Prevention of Money Laundering and Terrorism Financing Act whereby the accounts of suspected individuals and companies would be suspended.

The final destination of the containers was believed to be China but the matter was pending Customs' investigation, he said.

He said Malaysia should not be regarded as a transit for smuggling of prohibited goods but needed to be viewed from the aspect of the department's success in curbing the activity even though it had passed through the port of a neighbouring country.

"I want to warn any syndicates not to use ports in Malaysia for smuggling, especially prohibited items," he added.

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Customs: Malaysia not the only transit point for wildlife smuggling

KOTA KINABALU: Malaysia is not the only transit point in South-East Asia being used by international syndicates to smuggle wildlife, says Customs Department director-general Datuk Seri Subromaniam Tholasy (pix).

He said the perception that Malaysian ports were key transit points for wildlife smuggling was not true, but rather, this indicated Customs' many successes against smugglers here.

"We know that smugglers are using other ports in neighbouring countries. I do not want to name but they are not taking the action that we are taking," he told reporters after witnessing the handing over of duties from retiring Sabah Customs director Datuk Janathan Kondok to his successor Datuk Hamzah Sundang, the current Kuala Lumpur International Airport director.

Subromaniam was referring to the successes by Customs in Sabah, which seized some 8,000 tonnes of pangolin scales on transit at the Sepangar port here and also the seizure of ivory through KLIA in July.

He stressed that the smugglers were not only using Malaysian ports, but also those in neighbouring countries, which go undetected.

On the seizure of RM100mil worth of pangolin scales, he confirmed that the scales were on transit to China but declined to reveal the country of origin.

"We are still investigating. I can't reveal much," he said, adding that they expect to charge a 43-year-old local suspect for smuggling banned goods.

However, he said that the Sabah Wildlife Department was also free to take action against the suspect under the state's wildlife conservation laws.

"We will act under Customs laws. The Wildlife Department can also act against him using protection laws. These are two separate offences so we have no problem with them taking action against the suspect," he added.

The Customs' seizures of elephant tusks and pangolin scales had raised concerns that Malaysia had become a transit point for wildlife parts that fetch high value in China and Indo-China countries.

Tusks and other body parts of elephants are prized for decoration as talismans and for use in traditional medicine, while pangolin scales were considered aphrodisiacs.

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Elephant killed by tour bus in Malaysia

A 10-year-old elephant was killed on Wednesday morning after it was hit by a tour bus along the Gerik-Jeli Highway, according to wildlife activist group Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants, reports Channel News Asia. In a Facebook post, MEME shared police photos that showed the injured elephant on the side of the road. The animal was seen to have sustained head and body injuries.

No one on the bus, which sustained a large crack on its windscreen, was reportedly hurt. The Malay Mail cited Gerik police deputy Chief Mohd Sohaimi Ishak as saying that the bus was driving down a slope when the elephant suddenly ran across its path.

Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) director Loo Kean Seong also said that the forested area where the incident happened is also a habitat for elephants, said the The Star.

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Thursday, September 07, 2017

LED light thieves to blame for jumbo incursions

THE woes faced by three Jerantut villages over a rampaging herd of elephants were due to the theft of LED lights designed to keep the jumbos away, Kosmo! reported the Pahang Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) as saying.

State Perhilitan director Ahmad Azhar Mohammad said irresponsible parties had stolen 30 solar-po­wered LED (light-emitting diodes) floodlights from the entry point to the Lepar Forest Reserve.

These lights were part of an un­­con­­ventional new strategy to stop a herd of 30 wandering elephants from encroaching into human settlements at Kampung Pulau Tawar, Kampung Batu Leja and Kampung Bukit Nikmat.

It was previously reported that the hungry elephants ate the villa­ges’ food crops.

Ahmad Azhar said the herd had been led across Sungai Batu back to the forest, but ended up returning to the villages.

He added that attempts to usher the elephants away from the human settlements were also hampered by the people who came to watch the effort.

> Singer-actress Marsha Milan felt awkward about filming her la­test television film, Terobek Raya, without a script, reported Sinar Harian.

Without the script, the television-film was particularly challenging for the actress who had taken a year away from the industry.

“I was invited by (actress) Ozlynn to take part in the film and I assumed it was just an ordinary story,” said the 31-year-old.

“But when I got to the set, I was surprised by the ‘script’ that wasn’t really a script.

“At first I thought they were setting me up, but I understood after they explained the situation. The film had no script as it was meant to be spontaneous.”

Marsha admitted that she was initially a bit worried, but felt it turned out okay.


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Wednesday, September 06, 2017

Sabah's jumbo-sized problem in translocating elephant herds

The Sabah Wildlife Department has been working closely with large plantation companies in handling human-elephant conflicts especially, in the east coast of the state.

Department director Augustine Tuuga said, unlike in Peninsular Malaysia where a herd of elephants were moved by trained elephants, the Sabah Wildlife Rescue unit had to use heavy machinery for translocation purposes.

“Those trained elephants are bought from Thailand and India, which require special care that involve higher costs.

“Besides that, (trainers) have to learn foreign languages to give commands to the elephants,” he told the New Straits Times.

Augustine said, however, the translocation method in Sabah involved an estimated cost of RM30,000 per animal.

The cost includes the heavy machinery, allowances for rescue personnel, as well as food for the herd, which can have about 20 or more elephants.

The translocation was made necessary when the “no killing” policy came into effect in 1996. Previously, the authorities had used “elephant bombs” to contain the species.

During the recent Sabah Elephant Film Festival 2017, which was held in conjunction with World Elephant Day, Augustine had said human and elephants here used to live together before the 1960s.

“The villagers in the east coast of Malaysia used to call the elephants as ‘nenek’ (granny) as a gesture of respect for the species.

“When forests were slowly converted into plantations, authorities began to receive reports of damages caused by elephants,” said the director, who had been dealing with wildlife for three decades.

He said at worst, about 100 elephants would gather at one location in one night and cause damages to several acres of plantations.

There had been reports that bees buzzing sounds or light bulbs may be able to ward elephants from getting near to plantations.

Augustine, however, said none of the methods had proven effective to date, as compared to electrical fencing, was can be afforded by big plantation companies and not smallholders.

Meanwhile, Wildlife Rescue Unit veterinarian Dr Laura Benedict said the team had encountered many incidents of elephant herds came too close to places with human population.

“There were incidents of elephants going under stilt houses, which required prompt response to translocate the animals.

“In cases where elephants had died, 32 per cent were poisoned and 16 per cent were suspected being poisoned,” she said, citing among others, the notorious incident where 14 pygmy elephants were killed in the Gunung Rara forest in 2013.

Based on a study by the Sabah Wildlife Department and World Wide Fund for Nature, there were 2,050 Borneo Pygmy elephants about 10 years ago.

There were also reports that elephants were being poached for their tusks, some of which are used as wedding dowry in Indonesia.

However, the recent killing of a female pygmy elephant with multiple gunshots in Kinabatangan remains a mystery as the animal has no tusk.

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Residents worry over encroachment of wild elephants at school

The appearance of few wild elephants at a school in Bandar Penawar here has caused panic to the people as the uninvited guests has damaged some of the school’s property here in Kota Tinggi.
KOTA TINGGI: Several wild elephants that entered school grounds in Bandar Penawar here are causing panic among residents.

They are urging the Johor Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) to come up with long-term solutions to prevent the elephants from encroaching their settlements.

The pictures of the wild elephants, which had damaged the school’s property, went viral on Facebook since Sept 3.

It had received over 1,000 likes and more than 900 shares with netizens expressing their concern.
Zone Eight residents representative committee chairman Abdul Wahab Manan said on Tuesday that the herd had destroyed the landscaping at the school.

“Fortunately, no one was injured as the school was closed for the long break. This is the first time that wild elephants have encroached into settlements,” he said.

Abdul Wahab hoped Perhilitan and the Pengerang local council will work together to ensure that wild elephants do not trespass again.

Johor Perhilitan director Jamalun Nasir said the department would investigate the incident.
He believed the wild elephants, which came from the Panti forests and Felda settlement areas in the Kota Tinggi district, had strayed into the settlements.

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Sunday, September 03, 2017

10-year-old elephant killed by tour bus in Malaysia

A 10-year-old elephant was killed on Wednesday (Aug 23) morning after it was hit by a tour bus along the Gerik-Jeli Highway, according to wildlife activist group Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME).

In a Facebook post, MEME shared police photos that showed the injured elephant on the side of the road. The animal was seen to have sustained head and body injuries.

No one on the bus, which sustained a large crack on its windscreen, was reportedly hurt. The Malay Mail cited Gerik police deputy chief Mohd Sohaimi Ishak as saying that the bus was driving down a slope when the elephant suddenly ran across its path.

To read the full article, click on the story title

Digital devices to track elephants, news for World Elephant Day

Digital trackers are being used to follow the movement of elephants, as part of conservation projects and to protect elephants from poachers. This digital innovation is timely for World Elephant Day.

Tracking the spatial ecology of elephants is proving to be an effective approach, National Geographic reports, to develop new solutions for maintaining and protecting elephant populations and their environment. An example is with the use of radio collars.

Radio equipped technology allows for the near-instantaneous observation of the GPS location of an elephant. Data are transmitted via satellite and the signals are interpreted by sophisticated software algorithms which monitor incoming elephant movement datastreams. Information, such as alerting that elephants that become unnaturally immobile, allows responses by those engaged in elephant conservation to be quicker. This could lead, for instance, to catching poachers.

Such technology has been used in parts of Africa for the past two or three years, and the use is expanding. Recently it was reported that latest GPS and satellite communication technology developed by The University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) and the Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks was to be used to help follow Malaysian elephants.

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Saturday, September 02, 2017

1,000 villagers in Pahang under siege by elephants

MORE than 1,000 residents at three villages in Jerantut, Pahang, have been living on the edge over the past week.

They face a risk of being attacked by a herd of 11 wild elephants, which have destroyed more than 50ha of their banana and oil palm smallholdings.

Pulau Tawar asssemblyman Dr Ahmad Shukri Ismail said the pachyderm attacks began last Friday, and continued the past week, forcing residents to seek assistance from the Pahang National Parks and Wildlife Department (Perhilitan).

“The animals also destroyed the plants and tried to approach the houses of villagers, prompting us to implement tight controls for the people’s safety.

“Among the affected villages are Kampung Kelola, Kampung Bukit Nikmat and Kampung Batu Leja,” he said yesterday after visiting the affected villagers whose property was destroyed during the incident.

While disclosing that the last time the area faced attacks from wild elephants was in 2003, Ahmad Shukri did not deny that this time, the attacks were the result of extensive forest exploration in nearby areas.

He said he would propose to the state government to create a protected area for elephants and other wildlife in an area measuring 12,140ha to preserve their habitat.

“We will hold a special meeting on August 22 at Perhilitan in Kuantan to discuss the matter,” he added.

Meanwhile, Pahang Perhilitan director Ahmad Azhar Mohammed said his department was devising a way to keep the animals in their habitat to ensure the safety of villagers.

“We believe these wild elephants are from the nearby forest reserve, searching for food, and we must take swift action to prevent the villages from becoming their new habitat,” he noted.

Among the methods used are firecrackers, blue LED lights and firing gunshots into the air to scare the herd from approaching the villages.

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Sunday, August 27, 2017

Elephant dies after being hit by tour bus in Malaysia

Some two months after an elephant calf was run over and killed, another pachyderm, this time, a 10-year-old bull, died after it was struck by a bus on the same stretch of the Gerik-Jeli Highway in Malaysia.

This is despite the many signboards put up to warn motorists about elephants and other wildlife crossing in the area.

The elephant was killed after it was hit by the tour bus early yesterday, as it was crossing at Kilometre 59 in Gerik.

Pictures of the carcass at the scene and the bus with its cracked windscreen and damaged front end were widely shared on social media, angering many animal lovers and conservationists.

Some asked how the driver had failed to spot such a large animal.

Gerik OCPD Supt Ismail Che Isa said the bus was driven by a 62-year-old man and that the incident occurred about 5km from the Titiwangsa rest stop.

"The bus was going down a slope and heading towards Gerik when the elephant suddenly came out of the forest. The driver told us he could not brake in time," he said.

He said the elephant fell over on impact and then got up and walked to the left side of the highway. It sat there for awhile and then died.

Supt Ismail said the elephant suffered lacerations on its head and back.

"The bus driver and his 33 passengers were not injured," he said, adding that the Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) has been informed of the incident.

In June, a two-year-old elephant was crossing the highway and was killed when a car collided with it.

State Perhilitan director Loo Kean Seong said the area is an elephant habitat and that the animals are always roaming, no matter the time of day.

"So motorists must be careful and drive cautiously along that stretch. Please also do not speed," he said.

The carcass will be sent for a post-mortem and its tusks will be removed before burial.

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Thursday, August 24, 2017

Sabah minister decries wildlife poachers as ‘traitors’

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said illegal wildlife traders willing to serve up the state’s animals for the exotic meat trade were betraying the country.

He said such people were not just abusing the state’s pride and blessings, but also contributing to wildlife extinction here.

“If there are Sabahans doing this, then they are traitors who are doing a great disservice to their own state and country,” he said.

He was commenting on reports that unscrupulous parties were serving exotic meat from creatures such as pangolins, which are believed to have medicinal to tourists, for a hefty profit.

Masidi said that Sabah was among the most privileged places in the world, and blessed with exotic and abundant flora and fauna that has become the state’s source of pride and resources.

“To do this to our wildlife shows that they are not patriotic and betraying their country and those who have worked so hard at conserving our natural treasures,” he said.

Sabah’s wildlife like pangolins, sun bears, rhinoceros, elephants and orangutan have been under heavy pressure from human wildlife conflict like development, hunting, and the illegal pet trade.

Most recently, Indonesian authorities seized a 2.7kg elephant tusk from an Indonesian migrant worker travelling from Tawau to Kalimantan at the Nunukan port last week in the second similar case this year.

Conservationists fear that the tusks belong to Sabah’s Bornean Pygmy Elephants, a rare and endangered species of elephants that is struggling to maintain its habitat among Sabah’s rapid growth rate and plantation industries.

The carrier of the tusks claimed that they were bought for RM1,500 from a seller in Kota Kinabalu and was being taken to his hometown in Kalimantan for a traditional ceremony as a dowry.

“I’ve actually heard of this custom, from Timorese people. Some women told me they came here to work and raise money for their brother’s dowry of an elephant’s tusk. So this could be true. But it could also be used for other purposes. The fact is we cannot be sure of anything unless we actually catch them red-handed,” he said.

Masidi said that the government was concerned over the recent incident and raised questions about the tusk’s origins.

“But it has never been established that it was from here. We know it is probable, but we need to prove it,” he said adding that he has instructed his department to meet their counterparts in Indonesia to investigate the matter and obtain DNA samples of the tusk.

“If it is true that the tusks from here, we’ll obviously need to increase our border security and figure out how they got pass Malaysian checkpoints,” he said.


Read more at http://www.themalaymailonline.com/malaysia/article/sabah-minister-decries-wildlife-poachers-as-traitors#61C0t5MDXWDgqckl.99

Sunday, August 20, 2017

DNA test needed to prove elephant tusk smuggled from Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: There is a need to increase border security if the elephant tusk seized at Nunukan port in North Kalimantan originated from Sabah.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said a DNA testing must be done to prove that the tusk was from Sabah.

"I have already asked my officers to get in touch with their Indonesian counterparts. But DNA sampling takes time.

"So we will wait for the results from investigations to establish whether the tusk comes from Malaysia or other countries," he told reporters after chairing the Malaysia Day 2017 main committee first meeting here.

He was referring to a recent Indonesian media report that an Indonesian worker was arrested with the tusk on July 24, at Nunukan port.

On claims that tusks were used as wedding dowry in certain cultures in Indonesia, Masidi said it was unfair to say that was the primary motive for ivory trade.

"I have heard of stories of Timorese people coming here to get married as they find it more difficult now to obtain tusks to be given as dowry.

"But we have never really established that ivory trade is driven by (dowry)," he said.

Meanwhile, Masidi expressed disappointment with stories of exotic wildlife cuisine like pangolins being served to Chinese tourists here.

"We don't know for certain as it is hearsay; no one has been caught serving them, so we have to prove it.

"But if there are Sabahans involved, you are doing a disservice to your own state, and those who have worked hard for wildlife conservation," he said.

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Saturday, August 19, 2017

Another Vietnamese Ivory Smuggler is Nabbed at KLIA

And on and on it goes. The smuggling of ivory into and out of Malaysia, that is.

Exasperating? You bet.

Encouragingly, however, Malaysian officials tend to be on the ball and keep making arrest. The latest such arrest has involved that of a Vietnamese national who was trying to take 36kg of partially processed elephant tusks out of the country via Kuala Lumpur International Airport. The tusks, which had been cut up, tied up into 10 packages and packed into two suitcases, would have been worth around RM300,000 (US$70,000) on the black market.

The Vietnamese smuggler had brought the African elephant tusks from Addis Ababa, using Malaysia as a stopover. If convicted of trafficking, he is facing up to three years in jail and a hefty fine under Section 135 (1) (a) of the Customs Act 1967 for illegal importing prohibited goods into the country.

A Malaysian Customs officer displays the ivory contents of one of the two suitcases seized from a Vietnamese trafficker at Kuala Lumpur International Airport.

This latest case serves as yet another reminder that Malaysia continues to remain a hub for international ivory traffickers, several of whom are Vietnamese. In March last year Malaysian customs officials intercepted two Vietnamese men who were found to have 101kg of ivory inside their luggage. The same day officials discovered another haul of elephant tusks, amounting to 58 kilograms, in the bag of another Vietnamese passenger who had just flown in from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia and was on his way to Hanoi.

But it’s a two-way street. Just as illicit shipments of ivory are brought into Malaysia, so other shipments are taken elsewhere from here. Only a couple of weeks ago customs officials in Hong Kong discovered 7,200kg of elephant tusks shipped in from Africa via Malaysia. Valued at around US$9 million, it was the largest haul of contraband ivory seized in Hong Kong in three decades.

“A string of recent seizures in Malaysia has put a spotlight on wildlife trafficking between Africa and Asia,” explains the anti-wildlife trafficking watchdog TRAFFIC. “[It] shows that illegal traders continue to use Malaysia when smuggling wildlife products into and through Asia,” said the group’s Acting Regional Director for Southeast Asia, Kanitha Krishnasamy. “It is important that African, Malaysian and Vietnamese authorities to work together to break the links in this cross-continental illegal wildlife trade.”

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Tuesday, August 08, 2017

Elephants a common sight in Dumpas Plantation

A herd of wild elephants is a common sight at the Dumpas oil palm plantation near the Kalabakan-Tawau road here. The plantation’s manager Mohd Rahmat said the elephants were seen roaming the area of the workers’ quarters at about 2pm yesterday, believed to be looking for food.

He said to avoid undesirable incidents, the Dumpas elephant monitoring team and Wildlife Department personnel had chased the elephants away from the plantation area to the nearby forest.

“The elephant herd has been spotted many times in the plantation area and we will closely monitor them by doing regular patrols,” he said when contacted by Bernama here today.

As of yesterday, he said no incidents had been reported due to the problem, which went viral on social media.

The elephants have also been spotted in areas like Brumas, Cenderamata, Benta Wawasan, Kalabakan and Felda Umas, he said.

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(The Star) RM15mil sanctuary for elephants soon

Work on the first phase of the RM15mil Johor Elephant Sanctuary is underway and will provide a safe home for about 15 elephants.

Johor Health, Environment, Information and Education Committee chairman Datuk Ayub Rahmat said a contractor was appointed in May to start work on the 100ha project.

“The first phase will see about 15 elephants being housed in the sanctuary located along Jalan Lombong, not far from the Kota Tinggi waterfall, where the wild animals can roam freely,” he said.

He said the first phase was scheduled for completion at the end of next year and with that, help improve the conflict between wild elephants and humans in Kluang and Kota Tinggi.

He added that the sanctuary would also doubled as a tourism attraction for nature lovers to get close to the elephants.

“Johor’s vast forests are habitats to about 140 wild elephants where Segamat, Kluang, Mersing and Kota Tinggi are their stomping grounds,” he said.

The rapid developments and deforestation leading to the shrinking of the wild animals’ natural habitat have caused the animals to enter villages in search of food, creating conflicts with humans.

Ayub said the state received 75 complaints from residents and villagers of wild elephants encroaching into their farms and villages from January to May this year.

The highest complaints came from Kluang and Kota Tinggi with Kampung Sri Lukut and Mawai respectively being the most affected villages, he said.

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) received an average 181 complaints from villagers and the agricultural industry each year from 2011 to 2016 with damages amounting to about RM1.2mil annually.

Ayub said since 2008 to May this year, Perhilitan transferred 48 wild elephants out of Kluang alone and each transfer process cost about RM50,000.

To read the full article, click on the story title

Saturday, August 05, 2017

Malaysia: Electric fence to keep elephants away in the works

An electric fence will be built in Gua Musang to reduce the risk of conflict with elephants as their habitat continues to shrink because of deforestation activities.

Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar said he was seeking RM200,000 from the Finance Ministry for the fence.

“Building it is one of the mitigation measures to reduce conflict in areas populated by humans, while at the same time conserving the wild elephant population in its original habitat.

“Electric fencing is a long-term solution to the problem of wild elephants raiding human settlements for food,” Dr Wan Junaidi said in a statement after a recent incident at SK Seri Permai in Pos Pasik, Gua Musang.

Several wild elephants damaged fencing, doors and windows when they fed on bananas from the plants behind the teachers’ quarters.

Fortunately, the incident occurred on June 30, when the teachers and students were away during the Hari Raya break.

The school authorities reported the incident to the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) on July 2.

The elephants also left behind piles of dung.

“The elephant incident in Gua Musang was the first in five years,” Dr Wan Junaidi said.

“Based on Perhilitan’s findings, the damage was caused by three elephants from the Bertam elephant herd.”

It is learnt that this herd is made up of about 20 elephants.

The damage caused was estimated at RM7,000.

“I have directed the ministry, through Perhilitan, to implement short and long-term mitigation plans to address conflict involving elephants,” Dr Wan Junaidi said, adding that short-term measures include shooting to scare away the elephants.

He also appealed to members of the public not to take matters into their own hands during conflict situations with wild animals.

“I appeal to all the stakeholders to give full co-operation to ensure sustainable management of the wild elephant population in the country,” he said.

Pos Pasik village chief Hashim Harun said the elephants raided the banana plantation at 4am and destroyed about 100 plants.

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Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Elephant Spotted Wandering Near Houses In Johor Village Stirs Fears Among Villagers

Residents of Kampung Lukut in the Kota Tinggi district of Johor are scared of a wild elephant that has taken to wandering near their houses since earlier this month.

So far, there have been six encounters between the animal and the villagers which usually happened at night, between 9.00 p.m. to 12.00 a.m.

One resident, Azman Husin, 38, said the elephant came near to his house on Sunday night, but fortunately no property was damaged. His neighbor managed to record footage of the animal using his phone.

“The residents have lodged their complaints to the authorities for further actions,” he said to Bernama.

His friend, Roslan Dahalan, 52, said he hoped that authorities would take the matter seriously even though no property has been damaged yet.

“We are worried that the tragic incident of an elephant causing a villager's death in Ladang Tunjuk Laut previously would happen here as well.

“Help us and please return them to their original habitat,” said Roslan. He was referring to an incident in 27 June, when a 33-year old Indonesian, Sofian Adi, was found dead at Ladang Tunjuk Laut, Tanjung Sedili, who is believed to be trampled by a wild elephant.

According to acting village chief Amran Saari, 53, the elephant has even entered into a nearby rubber plantation owned by the Malaysian Rubber Board (LGM). A few rubber trees have been destroyed, believed to be caused by the animal as elephant footprints are located nearby the trees.

Director of Johor Wildlife Deparment (Perhilitan), Jamalun Nasir Ibrahim has received report from Kampung Lukut residents about an adult elephant that is wandering around the village.

“I am confident the elephant is separated from its herd, believed to live near Panti forest which is around three kilometers from the village,” he spoke to Bernama in Johor Bahru.

Human-elephant encounters are not rare in Malaysia, and in some cases, have even resulted in the death of either party.

On 19 June, a two-year old elephant was found dead in a pool of blood by the roadside of the Gerik-Jeli highway, believed to be hit by a car.

In December 2011, Australian-based Jenna O’Grady Donly was killed by a pygmy elephant when she were trekking with her friends in Tabin Wildlife Reserve in Sabah.

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Malaysia arrests Vietnamese man for 'ivory smuggling'

Authorities said the haul was worth about 300,000 ringgit (almost $70,000).

Malaysian authorities have arrested a Vietnamese man and seized a stash of elephant ivory worth almost $70,000, an official said Monday, highlighting the country's role as a hub for the wildlife-smuggling trade.

The man was detained Friday at Kuala Lumpur's main international airport after flying into the country from Addis Ababa in Ethiopia, said airport customs chief Hamzah Sundang.

Officials stopped the suspected smuggler, whose identity was not revealed in the airport terminal as he was acting suspiciously.

When they checked his luggage, they found 10 packages containing elephant ivory weighing 36 kilograms (80 pounds) that had been cut into small pieces, which activists said was likely going to be fashioned into jewelry.

Authorities said the haul was worth about 300,000 ringgit (almost $70,000).

The man had been due to travel on to Vietnam, where there is high demand for ivory which is prized locally for decorative purposes and in traditional medicine.

The latest seizure underlines Malaysia's role as a transit point in the global wildlife smuggling trade. Earlier this month, Hong Kong customs officials discovered 7.2 tones of ivory tusks in a shipment from Malaysia.

The global trade in elephant ivory, with rare exceptions, has been outlawed since 1989 after populations of the African giants dropped from millions in the mid-20th century to around 600,000 by the end of the 1980s.

Anyone found guilty of importing rare animals or their parts into Malaysia can be jailed for up to three years and fined.

Kanitha Krishnasamy, acting regional director for wildlife trade monitoring network Traffic, hailed the latest discovery by Malaysian authorities, which follows recent seizures of rhino horns and pangolins.

She said the operations were "crippling illegal traders from profiting from this business".

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Friday, July 21, 2017

Orphaned baby elephants choose Fonterra milk every time

Several orphaned baby elephants were rescued by the Rehabilitation Centre four years ago after their parents died. Located deep within a large forest reserve in Sabah, Malaysia, the Centre is renowned for its work to rehabilitate orphaned orangutans, as well as displaced sunbears and rhinos.

Hutt City Rotarian Debbie Mair, who was visiting the animal sanctuary at the time, was captivated by the tiny elephants with oversized ears, round bellies and friendly, gentle natures. Believed to be a small sub-species of the Asian elephant, Borneo’s endangered pygmy elephants live in the county’s tropical rain forests and are thought to have descended from captive elephants owned by the Sultan of Sulu in 1750.

Moved by the young animals’ plight, Debbie bought milk powder locally to feed the elephants but they did not thrive and some were lost over following months.  Debbie knew they had to take action to save the remaining baby elephants.

“Over the course of four weeks, we tested milk powders from New Zealand, Australia, Malaysia and Japan with the young elephants, with vet oversight and care. The results were astounding. When the elephants were offered a choice of milk powders, they actively wanted to drink Fonterra’s NZMP Fortified Milk Powder. In fact the two-to-three year old elephants refused to drink the other brands - the Fonterra one was their absolute favourite.”

Debbie said tests showed that the baby elephants did much better on the Fonterra milk powder and gained nearly twice as much weight compared to the other types of powders, which is good for their growth and development.

To read the full article, click on the story title

Wednesday, July 05, 2017

Baby elephant killed in highway accident

IPOH, Malaysia —  A two-year-old elephant was found dead in a pool of blood by the roadside of the Gerik-Jeli Highway in Gerik, some 130 kilometers from here.

Perak Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) director Loo Kean Seong said state officers found the carcass at around 7 a.m. last Friday.

“While incidents like this do not happen often, we would like motorists to be extra careful when driving along this highway.

“We have already erected signboards to notify motorists that there would be elephant crossings along the stretch of the highway, so they need to be more responsible, especially when they are driving late at night or early in the morning,” said Loo.
Loo also urged motorists throughout the country to report to their respective state Perhilitan if they knocked into any endangered or protected species like elephants, tigers, tapirs or leopards.

This is so that we can at least investigate and bury the carcass instead of leaving it to rot at the roadside,” he added. Ecotourism and Conservation Society Malaysia (Ecomy) co-founder and chief executive officer Andrew Sebastian said the particular stretch of the highway itself should be viewed as a heritage road with potential for ecotourism.

In view of the wildlife viaducts and countless articles written about the Belum-Temengor forest complex, the road and its wildlife, he said motorists must be extra careful.

“This is to avoid accidents as well as to show courtesy, respect and adherence to wildlife laws that are meant to also protect our other protected users,” he added.

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Thursday, June 08, 2017

Miss Tripod gets a new prosthetic leg

KUALA GANDAH: Selendang the elephant, who nearly lost her front left leg in a wire-trap, a decade ago, now has new lease of life, after being fitted with a prosthetic leg.

The 12-year-old Pachyderm is now able to walk and balance normally with the aid of the prosthesis.

It was some 10 years-ago, that Selendang, then a three-year-old, almost lost her leg, when it was caught in a man-made wire trap, in August 2007, near Felda 3, Rompin.

Nicknamed Miss Tripod, her new prosthetic leg was through the generous courtesy of Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Berhad (Exim).

Her mahout Khairol Adha Mat Amin said fixing the prosthesis will not only involve physical but also psychological treatment as Selendang had also suffered a mental trauma.

“Due to her young age trauma, Selendang needs therapy every day to help regain her confidence. “Also, this is not her first time with the prosthetic leg, she was previously fitted with six others but elephants grow bigger every six months and we’re thankful for the donation,” he said.

“Our challenge here is to have it fitted and train Selendang as she has already begun to feel more comfortable without the prosthesis,” said Khairol.

Limb Brace Rehab Appliances prosthetic maker Frank Lim said in order to make it more comfortable for Selendang to walk, the prosthesis must be fool-proof so there's no room for her to open it.

“Assuming the cast fits well, she will be able to walk around the sanctuary … we will see within one week whether the prosthesis suits her or not,” said Lim.

Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) Deputy Director general Hasnan Yusop said the opportunity presented by Exim bank for Selendang was amazing, as it will finally see her have a specific prosthetic leg, suited for her.

Exim vice president Mohd Nasir Johar hoped the prosthetic leg, will enable Selendang to walk with confidence.

“I hope this will let the public be more aware of the Kuala Gandah sanctuary which is to help preserve the elephants

“We should not just rely on the government to protect the nature but we ourselves need to play our part,” said Nasir.

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Sunday, May 21, 2017

Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary closed due to floods

PETALING JAYA: The Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre is closed until further notice due to flooding.

The Department of Wildlife and National Parks (Perhilitan) in a statement on Tuesday announced the temporary closure of the centre on its official page.

"Please be informed that the Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre had to be closed for tours and visitor activities from Tuesday (May 9 2017) till further notice because of flooding on the premises," it said.

The centre is located in Temerloh, Pahang and it is the base for the Elephant Unit that began the elephant translocation program in 1974.

Elephants are listed as a critically endangered species as less than 1,200 wild elephants roam in Peninsular Malaysia.

Read more at http://www.thestar.com.my/news/nation/2017/05/09/kuala-gandah-elephant--sanctuary-closed-due-to-floods/

Malaysia: 1-tonne male elephant captured while roaming Kelantan park

GUA MUSANG: Rangers from the Kelantan Wildlife Department yesterday captured a potentially-dangerous male elephant at Taman Wangi here – the fifth captured by the department this year.

Its director, Mohd Hasdi Husin, said the elephant was roaming near the rear of the Gua Musang Fire Services and Rescue station when it was captured at about 2.45pm.

“The male elephant is believed to have come out from Gunung Rabong forest and had been roaming the area for several hours before he was captured,” he said today.

Mohd Hasdi said the male jumbo, weighing about one metric tonne, is believed to be between 12 and 15 years old.

“The elephant will be sent to Kuala Gandah, in Pahang, as soon as possible,” he added.

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Lasah will remain at Langkawi

Here comes bad news for friends of Lasah, the ageing work elephant: Despite public outrage at his alleged ill treatment and a long campaign to secure his release, Lasah will remain at the Langkawi Elephant Adventures (LEA) amusement park on Langkawi island in Kedah.

Malaysian wildlife authorities have decided they saw no reason to take the elephant away from the park and relocate him to an elephant shelter in Sabah as animal lovers would have liked.

A special team of officials, headed by Azimuddin Bahari, deputy secretary-general at the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry, began investigating the condition of the elephant last March after months of allegations by animal rights advocates that the 37-year-old pachyderm had been facing routine abuse at the facility. Minister Wan Junaid Tuanku Jaafar himself visited the park to check on Lasah and speak with local staffers in March.

Based on inspections by the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) and the Malaysian Association of Zoological Parks and Aquaria (Mazpa), the elephant was deemed to be healthy and well kept. “The LEA management complied with all the regulations set by Perhilitan, and this report was supported by a consultant for wildlife management,” the committee said in a statement.

To read the full article, click on the story title

Monday, May 15, 2017

Malaysia seizes 18 rhino horns worth $3.1M from Mozambique

The horns were declared as art objects in a forged air bill with a fake final destination, says Malaysian airport customs director.

KUALA LUMPUR, MALAYSIA—Malaysian authorities said Monday that they have seized 18 rhino horns believed to have been smuggled into the country from Mozambique.

Airport customs director Hamzah Sundang said the horns were flown from Mozambique and transited in Doha before arriving at Kuala Lumpur’s airport on Friday. He said the horns, which weighed 51.4 kilograms and were worth 13.6 million ringgit ($3.1 million U.S.), were declared as art objects in a forged air bill with a fake final destination.

Hamzah said that custom officials made the seizure at the airport cargo warehouse based on a tip and that no arrests were made. The case is being investigated for smuggling of prohibited goods.

Rhino horns are believed to have medicinal properties and are in high demand in Asia.

In a report last year, the wildlife trade monitoring network TRAFFIC said Malaysia was a world transit hub for the flow of tons of illicit elephant ivory between Africa and Asia. It said seizures also linked Malaysia to Kenya and Uganda in the trafficking of 23 rhino horns from August 2010 to December 2013.

Conservationists say there are only around 30,000 rhinos left worldwide, compared to about half a million decades ago. All five remaining rhino species are threatened species, with three out of the five listed as critically endangered.

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Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Kelantan Wildlife Dept transfer wild elephant that caused havoc in Jeli

The Kelantan Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) Saturday transferred a male wild elephant after the animal destroyed crops of residents in Kampung Kuala Long here last week.

Its deputy director Ahmad Kamsul Alias said the operation to transfer the five-tonne elephant was carried out by Perhilitan with the assistance of the National Elephant Conservation Centre in Kuala Gandah, Pahang.

"In the operation, we used two female elephants known as Rambai and Abot as decoys to lure the wild elephant.

"The elephant will be sent to Taman Negara, Pahang after this," he told reporters after completing the transfer operation Saturday.

Ahmad Kamsul said 18 personnel including eight employees of the conservation centre were involved in the operation which began at about 9am and ended at noon, Saturday.

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Friday, March 24, 2017

2 rare elephant species killed for ivory in Central Sabah

Sabre and another large bull are killed by poachers for ivory, with both carcasses found 1,500m from each other, says authorities.

LAHAD DATU: Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) teams are deeply saddened by the killing of two wild bull elephants by poachers near Segama River, Kawag Forest Reserve.

A first bull was found on Dec 27 last year in the middle of an estate bordering Kawag Forest Reserve while the second bull, was a gorgeous sabre-tusked bull called Sabre, that was earlier rescued from a plantation near Tawau and translocated to Kawag Forest Reserve three months ago after being collared by DGFC and WRU.

“We found the remains of Sabre on New Year’s Eve, with the satellite collar next to the skull,” said DGFC Director Benoit Goossens in a statement, today.

He said Sabre was rescued from a plantation near Tawau early October last year and fitted with a satellite collar and released into a forest reserve near Danum where he thought the animal would be safe.

“We were obviously wrong. In the space of a month, Sabre and another large bull were killed by poachers for ivory, both carcasess were found 1,500m from each other, although the killings did not happen at the same time,” said Goossens.

To read the full article, click on the story title

Saturday, March 18, 2017

Taking down of elephant hunting syndicate hailed

The Malaysian Conservation Alliance for Tigers (Mycat) congratulates the Department of Wildlife and National Parks Peninsular Malaysia (DWNP) and the Malaysian Armed Forces for taking down one of Malaysia’s most wanted elephant hunting syndicates.

The joint effort, under the joint 1Malaysia Biodiversity Enforcement Operation Network (1MBEON), saw the arrest of seven locals in Kelantan and the confiscation of many weapons, including firearms, explosives and ammunition for shotguns and high-powered rifles. Also seized were wildlife parts, including tiger teeth and dried elephant meat.

Known for targeting elephants, gaur, serow and sambar in Kelantan, Terengganu and Perak, the group is allegedly responsible for at least 15 dead elephants poached for their ivory between 2013 and 2016. Chainsaws believed to have been used to remove tusks from the elephants were also confiscated.

“This case tells us that poachers have access to serious firepower and that they are becoming increasingly well organised. We hope the Royal Malaysian Police will assist DWNP in bringing these criminals to justice,” said Dr Chris R Shepherd, regional director of Traffic in South-East Asia.

To read the full article, click on the story title

Friday, March 17, 2017

Langkawi park elephant in good shape, says Natural Resources and Environment Ministry

PETALING JAYA: The viral photo of an elephant chained on all fours at Langkawi Elephant Adventures (LEA) on Langkawi island is in "good shape and healthy", said the Natural Resources and Environment Ministry.

Photos of a chained Asian elephant named Lasah have been circulated widely since July 2016, with claims from non-governmental organisation Friends of the Orangutans saying that Lasah was living in "deplorable conditions" and was being exploited at LEA.

The Ministry said in a statement on Tuesday that Perhilitan has conducted several inspections on LEA after receiving complaints about the elephant, adding that LEA has also been investigated several times.

It added in its statement that LEA was visited by Natural Resources and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Dr Wan Junaidi Tuanku Jaafar along with the Ministry's deputy secretary-general Datuk Seri Dr Azimuddin Bahari and Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director general Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim on Tuesday, saying that the visit was to inspect the premises and the elephant.

The Ministry said it concluded that all investigations and inspections "found the elephant in good shape and healthy".

"The condition of the premises is in compliance with the regulations such as having sufficient space and shelter, and so on," said the ministry in a statement.

To read the full article, click on the story title

Wednesday, March 01, 2017

Elephant boos couple who poos

TAIPING: It’s quite a tusk to find a place to poo when elephants could be around.
Two colleagues, a man and a woman, found that out the hard way when they were attacked by an elephant on the East-West Expressway near Gerik.

The pair had stopped their car on the highway, some 20km from Gerik, at about 5.30pm on Friday to relieve themselves from stomach aches.
The man, 48, and his 40-year-old female colleague from Jakarta, had got out from their car and gone behind some bushes by the roadside when the pachyderm pounced on them.
The man’s brother, known as Robert, said the victims had been on their way to Penang after a business event in Terengganu, reported The Star.

“He was relieving himself when he saw a ‘rock’ moving.
“He tried to run but was nudged by the elephant’s trunk and fell down,” Robert said at the Taiping Hospital where both victims are being treated.
“The elephant then stepped on him,” he added.
Robert said the woman, shocked by the incident, ran and tripped, injuring herself.
Perak Health Committee chairman Dr Mah Hang Soon, who visited the two on Saturday, said both victims had rib fractures.
“They are still being observed,” he said.
There were no further details on the elephant.

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Friday, February 10, 2017

NGO demands release of Lasah, the Langkawi elephant

PETALING JAYA: Malaysian NGO Friends of the Orangutans Malaysia (Foto) is up in arms over what it claims is continued abuse of an Asian elephant used for tourism purposes on the popular holiday island of Langkawi.

Foto initiated a campaign in July last year to urge the ministry of natural resources and environment (NRE) to relocate Lasah to the Kuala Gandah elephant sanctuary after photos of the 36-year-old elephant, chained on all four legs, were exposed.

“We were shocked to see images of Lasah shackled on all fours and later found out about his tragic past and present fate. It seems to us he has been wrung for financial profit for over 25 years by different individuals,” said Foto director Upreshpal Singh.

The NGO says Lasah has been used in zoos, a logging camp and the entertainment industry, was transferred to Langkawi island in 2006 and is today used by Langkawi Elephant Adventures (LEA) for rides and other activities. He is the only elephant in Langkawi. Lasah also appeared in the 1999 film Anna and the King featuring stars Jodie Foster and Chow Yun-Fatt.

In a report by a local news outlet, LEA director Serene Lau Xiao Woon refuted claims that the park was abusing Lasah and said the elephant was chained to help him recover from wounds on the face and legs.

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Thursday, January 26, 2017

Tusks seized in Kalimantan may have come from two dead Jumbos in Sabah

As often, science can come to the rescue. This time for determining whether pygmy elephant tusks seized a few days ago in North Kalimantan, Indonesia, belonged to two male pachyderms that were recently killed in Sabah.

Indonesian officials stopped a woman who was carrying five elephant tusks in Nunukan in North Kalimantan last week, and Malaysian officials suspect that at least some of those tusks might have come from the two elephants that were found dead in Sabah in late December last year. One of the elephants, nicknamed “Sabre,” made headlines worldwide just a few moths prior for its tusks, which had been growing backward in a downward arc.

Malaysian officials now want to have DNA tests conducted on the tusks seized in Indonesia to see if the tusks had come from Sabre and the other male pygmy elephant killed recently in Sabah. “So far, we don’t know exactly where the tusks could have come from,” said Augustine Tuuga, director of Sabah’s Wildlife Department. “It can only be ascertained when the Indonesian wildlife authorities had taken a statement from the person or conduct a DNA analysis to compare them with the specimens of animals killed in Sabah,” he added.

The wanton murder of the two endangered animals has enraged conservationists and animal lovers far and wide, especially since both were killed within a protected area in Kinabatangan. The two elephants were found 1.5 kilometers apart, both with bullet holes in their skulls, indicating that both animals had likely been killed by the same poacher or poachers. The state’s Wildlife Department offered a RM10,000 reward to anyone who could assist officials in tracking down those involved in the elephants’ death.

Over the past years and decades, the number of Malaysia’s pygmy elephants has dropped precipitously, exposing the tuskers to the threat of extinction in the wild. The pachyderms have seen large parts of their ancestral habitats lost forever or else badly fragmented as vast swathes of forest have been cut down by loggers and palm oil cultivators.

Elephants need ample space for roaming far and wide as they forage for food. Because of the loss of their natural habitats, however, they have ended up coming into increasing contact with humans who have been encroaching on their habitats. This has increased the risk of conflicts between elephants and people. Sadly, poachers, too, have been gaining easer access to wild elephants owing to the relentless shriveling up of forests.

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Sunday, January 15, 2017

Smallest elephants of the world being brutally killed

KUALALAMPUR: (Web Desk) – The elephants in Malaysia’s Boreno island are considered the smallest kind of the specie due to their small size. According to one estimate, these elephants took around 30,000 years to come into their current form.

According to foreign media reports, these elephants are generally hunted less compared to the African cousins but still the greed for ivory threatens these elephants to extinction. The cutting down of the jungles is also leaving these elephants with lesser and lesser space to live in. According to an estimate, only 1500 to 2000 of these elephants survive today.

According to zoologists, the hunting of elephants in Boreno island wasn’t considered a major issue previously but the recent developments show that the professional hunters are hunting down these animals to extract ivory.

On the other hand, Wildlife Conservation Society’s Vice President Elizabeth Bennet expressed great grief over the situation, saying that the killing of these small elephants was gruesome, especially when the world is finally rising up to save the African elephant and the efforts to close down ivory markets are at their peak.

She said that the remaining elephants could only be saved through strong action against those involved in heinous crimes against them and such markets are closed down.

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Saturday, January 14, 2017

RM10,000 bounty over elephant murders

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) is offering a RM10,000 reward for informants with valid information on the two wild bull elephants that were slaughtered by poachers for their ivory near the Segama River, Kawag Forest Reserve.

The department has asked those with information to call the department at 013-5441980.

The first bull was found on Dec 27, last year, in the middle of an estate bordering Kawag Forest Reserve, while the second bull, a sabre-tusked bull called Sabre was found on New Year’s Eve.

Sabre was rescued from a plantation near Tawau and translocated to the Kawag Forest Reserve three months earlier, after it was collared by the Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) and Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU). When the carcass was discovered, the satellite collar was next to its skull.

The tusks of both bulls were removed.

DGFC Director, Benoit Goossens had explained that after Sabre was rescued at a plantation near Tawau last October, he was fitted with a satellite collar and later released at the forest reserve near Danum where it was thought that the bull would be safe.

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Friday, January 06, 2017

Elephants Tortured for our Entertainment

A few weeks ago, I went on a trip to Borneo, Malaysia with my grade for a school trip. This trip was very educational for me because I learned a lot about endangered animals and it opened my eyes to a lot of things I never thought was relevant to our world. The facility that we stayed at the first two nights was a rehabilitation centre for endangered animals, but their main focus were orangutans and sun bears. The guide talked to our group about how harmful taming wild animals can be. What affected me the most, however, was what I learned about elephant riding.

Elephant riding is a popular attraction in Asian countries such as Thailand, India, and Bangladesh. It seems like a fun and harmless thing to do, but it does affect the elephant in many ways. Elephants are big, strong creatures and they rule the places they live in. Wild elephants are extremely hard and dangerous to tame. It can be life threatening to humans. In order to train them, 'mahout' (elephant trainers) must crush their spirit – starting from when they are still babies.


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Friday, November 11, 2016

Enraged elephant attacks couple in Tawau

TAWAU: A couple sustained serious injuries when they were attacked by an elephant at the Brumas estate area here, on Wednesday. In the 6.15am incident, Santoko Satria, 44, and his wife Susie Sudirman were on their way to work at a timber plantation when they came in contact with the elephant.

District police chief Assistant Commissioner Fadil Marsus said the animal suddenly went berserk and began chasing the couple.

"It attacked them with its trunk, tossing them in the air, causing them to land hard on the ground. "The wild elephant then chased and trampled the woman before fleeing into the forest." He said the woman sustained serious bodily and face injuries. Both victims were brought to the district hospital for treatment.

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Elephants on rampage, trampling crops, scaring villagers

LENGGONG: Eight wild elephants have been making lives of the villagers at Kampung Chepor a nightmare for the past two weeks. The villagers, mostly rubber tappers, have not had a good night’s sleep as they live in fear of the next attack.

The wild elephants are said to have trampled on precious crops and the residents fear for their safety. In the most recent incident, last night a herd of elephants made their way into the village and destroyed crops as well as trampled on dozens of banana trees.

Tarmizi Ghazali, the village’s headman said the herd came after dusk destroying the crops and making loud noises, which sent residents scurrying away. He added that the residents were only able to watch from afar and did not dare chase the herd away.

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Sunday, October 09, 2016

Environmentalist leads Msia's Asian elephants towards brighter future

KUALA TERENGANU: Do not take our wildlife for granted as we have already lost the leatherback turtle and Sumatran rhinoceros, warned an environmental expert.

Wong Ee Phin, a final year PhD student at University of Nottingham Malaysia in Semenyih, Selangor, said that it is high time Malaysian stakeholders value and protect our flora and fauna for the benefit of future generations.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2013

10 rare pygmy elephants found dead in Borneo


Ten endangered pygmy elephants have been found dead this month in Malaysian Borneo and are thought to have been poisoned, conservation officials said Tuesday.

A pygmy elephant calf can be seen on Malaysia's Borneo island in this image provided by Malaysia wildlife authorities on January 21, 2012. Ten endangered pygmy elephants have been found dead this month in Borneo and are thought to have been poisoned, conservation officials said Tuesday.

Wildlife authorities in Sabah, a state on the eastern tip of the island, have formed a taskforce together with the police and WWF to investigate the deaths.

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Friday, January 11, 2013

Local elephants facing extinction



PETALING JAYA (Dec 13, 2012): Elephants in Peninsular Malaysia are in danger of becoming extinct, says World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia.

It is estimated that there are only about 1,220 to 1,680 Asian elephants left in Peninsular Malaysia. This is based on the data collected from 2000 to 2012 by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP).

WWF Malaysia Species Conservation manager Dr Han Kwai Hin said habitat loss, illegal hunting, and retaliatory killing are the major threats that cause the number of wild elephants to dwindle.



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24 tons of ivory seized in Malaysia


Kuala Lumpur -

Malaysian customs have seized 24 tons of unprocessed elephant tusks worth almost $20 million, the largest haul in the country to date, officials said on Tuesday.

About 1 500 tusks hidden in two containers were discovered by customs officials at the country's main port of Klang, in the western state of Selangor.

The tusks had been hidden within pieces of timber inside the containers, which had originated from the west African nation of Togo.

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Monday, September 10, 2012

Our gentle giants running out of space

Sporadic reports of elephant sightings have brought into sharp focus the continuously accelerating rate of which we are losing wildlife habitat, a concern that indicates elephants are running out of space and time.
Incidents of human-elephant conflict have increased. Degradation and the diversion of elephant habitat for human activities creates a clear need to adopt insightful and proactive measures to secure a future for what is one of the world’s most exotic, intelligent, and humble animals.
Increasing amounts of land granted to large iron ore mines seriously threatens the pachyderms. The fragile ecosystem sustaining some of the earth’s most endangered species is collapsing under the weight of relentless industrialization, as the government pushes ahead with pro-industry policies in the name of development...

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Monday, July 02, 2012

'Switch on your electric fences' Sabah Wildlife director


KOTA KINABALU, Malaysia - The use of electric fencing at plantations can help ease human-elephant conflicts, said Sabah Wildlife Department director Dr Laurentius Ambu.

However, he said despite the fact that some big landowners had fenced their estates to avoid crop raiding, many owners still did not switch on the power on their electric fences.

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Friday, May 08, 2009

Sanctuary near Kenyir Lake attracts 31,140 local and foreign visitors

R.S.N. MURALI, The Star
May 1, 2009

HULU TERENGGANU: In just a year, the Sungai Ketiar elephant sanctuary in the hinterland of Kenyir Lake has wooed an outstanding 31,140 visitors.

Both locals and foreigners, the visitors travelled 95km from Kuala Berang to see the three wild Asian elephants, including a female calf, at the sanctuary.

Another 150 wild jumbos will be added to the 15,000ha site over the next three years.

Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said, who visited the sanctuary recently, expressed contentment over its progress.

“It is a unique tourism product the state will focus on while promoting the other attractions already in place at the Kenyir area,” he said.

Ahmad said the visitors could feed the tame elephants and ride on them over a large area.

He said the sanctuary was accessible via the Kuala Berang-Tasik Kenyir-Aring-Gua Musang bypass road.

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Forestry staff in coma after bashing by poachers

Daily Express
April 24, 2009


Kota Kinabalu: The Forestry Department has been forced to engage the
services of a security firm with armed personnel following a retaliatory
attack by a group of suspected illegal hunters earlier this month.


The attack, involving a group of about 20 men, armed with machetes,
brass knuckles, hockey sticks, samurai swords, rambo knives and sticks,
among others, occurred at the Ulu Segama-Malua District Forestry Office
Base Camp at Sungai Kawag, Ulu Segama Forest Reserve, Lahad Datu at
about 9pm on April 2.


Sabah Forestry Department Director Datuk Sam Mannan said the one-hour
incident left District Forestry Officer Indra Sunjoto seriously injured
and unconscious.
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Terengganu to focus on tourism (Malaysia) By SIMON KHOO and R.S.N. MURALI, The Star April 18, 2009 KUALA TERENGGANU: The state government plans to

By SIMON KHOO and R.S.N. MURALI, The Star
April 18, 2009

KUALA TERENGGANU: The state government plans to make tourism its main revenue earner instead of just depending on royalties from petroleum and gas, Mentri Besar Datuk Ahmad Said said.

Ahmad (BN-Kijal) said plans were in the pipeline to increase more tourist products to attract more visitors, citing the recent opening of a mini zoo in Kemaman and beautification of Tasik Kenyir as examples.

“We want to make the tourism sector our backbone and top revenue earner in the years to come.

“This is because unlike commodities like petroleum and gas, it would not deplete in supply.

“The recent flunctuation of global oil price also create uncertainties,” he said in his winding up speech at the last day sitting of the state assembly here on Wedneday.

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Wildlife under threat

The Star
March 31, 2009

AT the rate of deforestation and habitat fragmentation in their state, Johoreans will have to brace for more human-wildlife conflicts.

The northern and eastern districts of Johor – Segamat, Mersing, and Kota Tinggi – can expect to experience more intrusions of elephants, in particular, into plantations and other farm land.
As forests are cleared. wild jumbos have to be relocated to other areas.

The southern state has witnessed a prolonged conflict with the pachyderm since the late 1980s as forests were cleared for human settlements and converted into agricultural land especially for oil palm plantations by the private sector as well as the Felda (Federal Land Development Agency) scheme.

The problem is to be expected as these forests are important wildlife habitats, judging from the three huge areas gazetted – the Endau-Kluang, Endau-Kota Tinggi and Segamat Wildlife Reserves (WR) – in 1933. Segamat WR has ceased to exist today.

The Department of Wildlife and National Park (Perhilitan) has translocated 99 elephants from this region since 1994. The displaced creatures were mostly relocated to Endau Rompin National Park and the Terengganu side of Taman Negara.

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Elephant Attack: 18,000 Oil Palm Trees Destroyed

Bernama
April 04, 2009


GUA MUSANG, April 4 (Bernama) - A company, which has been awarded a contract to plant oil palms near Pos Blau here, suffered huge losses when 18,000 of the one-year-old palm trees in the 600 hectare plantation were destroyed by elephants since a month ago.

Syarikat Pembangunan Ladang Khazanah Nadi Alam Enterprise manager, Mohd Khazanah Ab Rahman estimated the company losses at almost RM500,000.

He said a herd of five elephants entered the plantation almost every night and destroyed the oil palm trees, as well as banana trees grown as cash crop at the plantation.

The elephants had destroyed about 10,000 of the 75,000 banana trees in the plantation, he told Bernama here.

Mohd Khazanah said workers at the plantation had taken various measures, including burning old tyres at night, to keep away the elephants, but were futile, adding that replanting of the oil palms would be carried out only after the pachyderm returned to the forest area.

He said the attacks by the elephants also caused the 60 workers at the plantation to fear for their safety.

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Sunday, March 15, 2009

Borneo pygmy elephants, planters battle for land

Niluksi Koswanage, Reuters
February 23, 2009

SUKAU, Malaysia (Reuters Life!) - Deprived of access to his favourite food, a pygmy elephant trumpets furiously and charges at wildlife officials, a manifestation of this rare species' battle against Malaysia's key palm oil industry.

Some herds of pygmy elephants, an endangered species according to conservation body the Worldwide Fund for Nature (WWF), are thriving on the fruit of palm oil plantations that encroach on their domains on Borneo island.

This has intensified the challenges to a mainstay of the economy in this South East Asian country of 27 million people, and the aggression the elephants show against humans.

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Saturday, January 17, 2009

New Survey Finds More than 600 Asian Elephants

LiveScience
14 January 2009

A new survey of dung has revealed a population of hundreds of endangered Asian elephants living in a Malaysian park. The animals could be the largest-known set of these pachyderms in Southeast Asia.

The researchers counted dung piles to estimate that there are 631 Asian elephants living in Taman Negara National Park — a 4,343 square kilometer (1,676 square mile) protected area in the center of Peninsular Malaysia. This result confirms the largest-known population of elephants remaining in this part of the world, according to the New York-based Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) and Malaysia’s Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP), which partnered to study the elephants.

Asian elephants are endangered due to habitat loss and poaching; between 30,000 and 50,000 may remain in 13 Asian countries. The Asian elephant is listed on the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species and has seen a drastic reduction in total population across its range as a result of illegal poaching, increased human-wildlife conflict and other threats.

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Elephant Problem Solvable If Illegal Logging Stopped

Bernama
January 3, 2009

BANDA ACEH, Jan 3 (Bernama) -- Wild elephant incursions into human settlements in Aceh will continue if nothing is done to stop illegal logging in forest areas, Antara news agency reported quoting a local nature conservation official as saying.
"The problem will persist unless illegal logging is stopped," Andi Basrul, head of the Nanggroe Aceh Darussalam Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), said here Saturday.

During December 2008, wild elephants had invaded a number of villages in Aceh, damaged a few houses and injured several people.

Basrul said his agency could not do much to stop the animals' incursions because they were merely reacting to the damage being done to their habitat.

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Friday, October 24, 2008

Injured elephants on the rise, says Sabah wildlife dept

New Straits Times
October 11, 2008

The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) has a mammoth problem on its hands.

It is increasingly concerned over the rise in the number of injured and dead elephants in the state.
In one instance, a 25-year veteran wildlife guide and lecturer was reduced to tears when he saw a calf (young elephant) in excruciating pain after falling prey to a man-made trap in Kinabatangan.

SWD director Laurentius Ambu noted that the bigger issue facing the department involved elephants getting injured or maimed, mostly due to man-made traps and subsequently succumbing to the injuries.

He said that early last month, a calf was found dead from unknown causes.

“Such traps are usually set by oil palm plantation workers to make ends meet by trapping wild boars and deers for sale to restaurants or self-consumption.

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Thursday, October 02, 2008

Visitors To Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary Up 34 Pct In 2007, Says ECER

Bernama
September 29. 2008

KUALA LUMPUR, Sept 29 (Bernama) -- The National Elephant Conservation Centre in Kuala Gandah has seen a 34 percent increase in visitors in 2007 compared to the previous year.
Earmarked as a wildlife reserve under the East Coast Economic Region (ECER), the centre received a total of 81,017 visitors last year from 60,436 in 2006, ECER said in statement here today.
The centre's elephant unit chief, Nasharuddin Othman, said most of the foreign tourists who visited the elephant sanctuary were from Australia, UK, New Zealand, Japan and Germany.
He said the number of both local and foreign visitors keep increasing every year.
"In 2005, there were 38,863 visitors. This figure rose to 60,436 in 2006. We have attracted a lot of visitors due to the fact that this is the only place in Malaysia where visitors are able to observe closely and understand the handling and management of trans-located Asian elephants," Nasharuddin said.

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Saturday, September 27, 2008

Probe into elephant's death

Jaswinder Kaur, NEw Straits Times
September 20, 2008

KOTA KINABALU: The death of a male Borneo Pygmy elephant near a jungle resort in the Kinabatangan district early this month has sparked an investigation by the Sabah Wildlife Department.
The department is probing the cause of death of the elephant, estimated to be about two years old. Its carcass showed no visible injuries.

The department's officer-in-charge in Kota Kinabatangan, Roland Nuin, received information about the dead elephant on Sept 2 and sent a team to the scene.

"Unfortunately, by the time the carcass was found and reported to us, it was already decomposing, which makes it hard for us to determine the cause of death," Nuin said in a statement issued yesterday.

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Rare images captured in the wild

Roy Goh, New Straits Times
September 18, 2008

KOTA KINABALU: Scientists doing research in the jungles of Sabah have recently returned with some exciting photographs.

One was a picture of the rare Sumatran rhinocerous captured with a motion triggered camera, while the other was a series of images of two adult elephants helping a month-old calf across a river.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Laurentius Ambu said both achievements would go a long way in efforts to preserve the two rare and endangered species in the Sabah jungles.

"Monitoring and protection of the animals through the research work done by scientists can boost their number as it helps deter poachers and secure habitat from further degradation and illegal encroachment."

The image of the Sumatran rhino, taken from its rear, is the second made in the wild and this time it was by scientists Ross Jo and Andrew Hearn who are studying the Bornean-clouded leopard under the Global Canopy Programme, which is based in the UK.

To read the full article and see some of the pictures click on the story title