Friday, February 15, 2013

WWF: Long-Term Solutions Needed for Conservation of Borneo Pygmy Elephants

Pygmy elephants

WWF-Malaysia is concerned about the recent pygmy elephant deaths in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve.
“WWF-Malaysia is providing support to the Sabah Wildlife Department and is part of the special taskforce that has been set up by the Department to further investigate the matter. Our patrolling teams worked closely with the Department in unearthing the incident,” said WWF-Malaysia Executive Director/CEO, Dato’ Dr Dionysius S K Sharma.

According to reports, all the deaths have happened in areas where forests are being converted for plantations within the permanent forest reserves.

“The central forest landscape in Sabah needs to be protected totally from conversions. All conversion approvals need to be reviewed by the Sabah Forestry Department and assessed not purely from commercial but the endangered species and landscape ecology perspectives”, Dr Dionysius said.

“Conversions result in fragmentation of the forests, which in turn results in loss of natural habitat for elephant herds, thus forcing them to find alternative food and space, putting humans and wildlife in direct conflict”, he added.

Holistic long-term solutions need to be put in place to address and mitigate the problem, Dr Dionysius said.

He said that elephants need to be elevated to a ‘totally protected’ status under Part 1 of Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment of Sabah, which has been recommended in the Sabah Wildlife Department’s Elephant Action Plan 2012-2016, but yet to be implemented.

“Frequent and large scale patrolling is critical to avoid such conflict from happening again. However, given the vast area that requires patrolling, it is a massive task for the Sabah Wildlife Department. More resources, including manpower, hardware and finances, should be allocated for the Department. The existing honorary wildlife warden programme of the Department is doing well and should be expanded,” Dr Dionysius said.

The Borneo pygmy elephants are an endangered species. There are approximately 1,200 of these evolutionarily unique elephants in Sabah and all of Borneo. Ten carcasses of the endangered elephants were found dead within the central forests of Sabah which is also a part of the Heart of Borneo.



Anonymous said...

Scientific information is extremely important and valuable for both conservation managers and research scientists in their effort to manage and save the Bornean elephants.

Anonymous said...

According to Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT) conservation and research head, Raymond Alfred, who has been studying the movement of the species for more than 10 years, the scientific information is often used to direct daily activities by those in the field.

Anonymous said...

the information is also useful during land use planning process, as research scientists will use the information to formulate hypotheses which they will test by undertaking further research

Anonymous said...

Among the major threats facing the Bornean elephants presently are the degradation and fragmentation of their habitat, which incidentally raises their risk of genetic isolation from other elephants’ population, particularly when their traditional seasonal migratory routes are blocked.

Anonymous said...

The blockage also encourages the impoverishment and stochastic extinction of the species.

Anonymous said...

The population at the Lower Kinabatangan has been separated from the main elephants’ population at Sabah’s central forest for 30 years as their traditional migratory routes have been blocked by the development of large scale plantations including the main Sandakan-Lahad Satu Road.

Anonymous said...

the elephant herds in the central forest (non-fragmented forests) is smaller (300 km2) than the home ranging of the elephant herds in the fragmented forests. Human activities and forest disturbances have a measureable impact on the elephants’ movement.”

Anonymous said...

the Lower Kinabatangan, the elephants have a higher movement rate of between five kilometers and nine kilometers daily. The home range of elephants’ population living in fragmented forests recorded was more than 700 square kilometers.

Anonymous said...

the forest corridors need to be properly designed and managed as this will help minimize the elephants’ ranging distance as well as decrease human – elephants’ conflicts.

Anonymous said...

Yet from my study, I have found out that the corridors that were established were not suitable for the purpose and this was based on the information that had been gathered basing on the monthly ranging of the elephants of between 40 and 50km2. In such cases, for such corridors to be effective, they should be at least about 400 to 800 meter in width, and if the distance between two key habitats is farther, then the corridor has to be made wider

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