January 21, 2018

SAM: Stop the Wanton Deaths of Wild Elephants

SAM: Stop the Wanton Deaths of Wild Elephants

Malaysia's wild elephants are facing several existential threats. Photo Credit: AnimalSake

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is astounded at the death of yet another wild elephant in Gerik, Perak. The incident occurred on January 3rd when a 40-year-old female elephant was electrocuted by a live wire on a roadwork construction site.

Herds of wild elephants come into populated areas while foraging for food. These pachyderms have lost their natural habitats due to extensive and uncontrolled land clearance leading to increasingly fragmented habitats. According to an elephant expert, suitable habitat is lost when roads are built that traverse grasslands and bring automobile traffic.

The body of the dead female elephant was found at a construction site. Photo Credit: Gerik Fan Club via Facebook

SAM, other NGOs, and members of the community have expressed concern on several occasions over the number of roadkill deaths of elephants and other endangered species, but it appears that the Malaysian Highway authorities have not considered addressing the many letters published in the media. Even letters from SAM to the highway authorities have gone unanswered to this day.

Malaysian elephants are exposed to dangers from several fronts – from becoming targeted by poachers to perishing in automobile accidents to being poisoned or shot and killed by plantation workers. The future of our elephants is bleak. The electrocution of this lactating female elephant brings to mind a similar incident in Sabah where seven endangered pygmy elephants died in an abandoned quarry pond last year. It is irresponsible to leave work projects that are a hazard to both humans and animals.

Which government body, department, or agency is responsible for putting up the cabin and later abandoning it upon completion of its project without disconnecting its electrical supply? Who will be held responsible for this unsafe worksite? What if a human had gone near the cabin and accidentally stepped on the live wire?

The loss of yet another wild elephant is sad and what about her baby? The young calf may follow the herd but what are its chances of survival without its mother? This cause of death should be clearly investigated and not taken lightly by the Wildlife Department.

Such irresponsible action of the parties involved should not be condoned. Given this situation and neglect of safety protocol, SAM urges the Wildlife department to conduct an in-depth probe into the unfortunate incident and call for investigations and findings to be made public at the soonest time possible.

This post has been contributed to Clean Malaysia by S.M. Mohd Idris, president of the conservationist group Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM)


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