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Bid to make sanctuary haven for Bornean elephants
Published on: Thursday, April 09, 2015
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Kota Kinabatangan: The community of Kampung Perpaduan here hopes to make the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary (LKWS) as a haven for almost 300 Bornean elephants that reside there.EU-REDD+ (Reducing Emissions from Deforestation and Forest Degradation) Project Manager, Dr Raymond Alfred said that it was a challenge for them to achieve that aim since LKWS was surrounded by human settlements, oil palm plantations and unprotected private lands.

Aside from that, the natural habitat that used to surround LKWS has been cleared to make way for new development over the last 10 years, he said.

The dwindling forested area has resulted in increased human-elephant conflicts that threatened the safety of both people and the elephants, he said.

"There have been several cases of elephants encroaching into and causing havoc at oil palm plantations and villages. People risk being injured or killed when they try to stop the elephants from causing destruction," he said.

Unfortunately, the methods employed by the people to chase away the elephants were sometimes harmful and have resulted in killing and injuring the elephants.

"The resolution of the human-elephant conflict is hence a major concern and a high priority for the conservation of elephants at LKWS," he said.

Alfred said that they were working with the community of Kampung Perpaduan near here to help raise awareness on the importance of protecting wildlife, namely the elephants, conserving the forest and reinstating the forest corridor that would allow the elephants to travel from one forest pocket to another safely.

"Eventually, the community wants to create a homestay programme that integrates elephant conservation efforts and reduce human-elephant conflicts that are prevalent today," he said.

To create the eco-tourism model, the community will undergo training as honorary wardens, in wildlife survey and biodiversity mapping.

Alfred said that such knowledge would be beneficial to the community since they will understand the need to install the elephant corridor and adopt mitigation measures which are already part of the outlined eco-tourism programme.

"The local community from Kg Perpaduan will be able to benefit from the project once they are aware of the importance of maintaining and restoring the ecological corridor in Lower Kinabatangan," he said.

Aside from that, the local community will also be able to keep knowledge of the forest that was now being exported overseas by foreign researchers, he said.

Sabah Wildlife Department director, William Baya meanwhile stressed that it was imperative for the plantation sector to be involved in the project of securing and re-establishing the wildlife corridor.

Several plantations have already given their support to the project. These includes Pontian United Plantations Berhad, a subsidiary of Felda Global Ventures Holdings Berhad (FGV).

Under the initiative, FGV has partnered with the Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) to support the development of solutions for wildlife/biodiversity corridor development which also focus on the involvement of the local community.



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