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Don't shoot at jumbos fleeing floods
Published on: Thursday, January 11, 2007
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Kota Kinabalu: Oil palm smallholders in the Kinabatangan and Segama areas have been advised not to shoot at elephants encroaching into their land to seek shelter, following the destruction of their habitat by floods.Sabah's Honorary Wildlife Warden, Datuk Wilfred Lingham, said the smallholders should contact the nearest wildlife officers as they know best how to prevent the elephants from causing further damage to their crops.

"Normally the elephants would go to higher grounds to look for shelter when their habitats are damaged by natural disasters like floods, nowadays.

However, there are many small-scale oil palm plantations within the range of 15 to 20 acres on these higher grounds.

"Hence, what I fear is that the operators would take the law in their own hands and use bakakuks (homemade shotgun) to take pot shots at the elephants, which is not an appropriate method to chase them away.

"This is what I have observed in those two areas - Kinabatangan and Segama," he said Wednesday.

He said normally the operators would not shoot to kill the animal but not many know their hurting the elephants would result in the slow death of these elephants.

He related that in one instance bakakuk shots had blinded some elephants, which led to their eventual death in a very cruel way.

"Using the bakakuks to frighten and chase away the elephants would also result in provoking them to become rogue elephants that will go after human beings.

"Obviously, we do not want any kind of untoward incidents happening to humans, including the smallholders. So it is advisable to get hold of wildlife officers to deal with the situation," he said.

Unlike the smallholders, Wilfred said, the huge oil palm plantations had a have high tolerance of elephant herds.

In addition, he said some of these plantations try to discourage elephants from encroaching into their land by, for instance, burning old tyres along their boundaries and installing electric fencing, among others.

Other wildlife rarely drown in floodwaters, he said, adding that some animals like pythons, small mammals and orang-utan can be seen clinging on trees as their temporary habitats while waiting for the floodwaters to recede.



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