Logging causing elephants to wreak havoc in Perak

Perak Wildlife Department staff loading the elephant onto a truck for relocation at the Royal Belum Forest Reserve. ― Malay Mail pic
Perak Wildlife Department staff loading the elephant onto a truck for relocation at the Royal Belum Forest Reserve. ― Malay Mail pic

LENGGONG, Jan 29 — The Perak Wildlife Department has released an elephant which wandered into a village here last week and destroyed  crops.

The one-and-a-half tonne bull was caught on Jan 22 after the department received complaints from villagers of Kampung Luat.

State Wildlife Department director Rozidan Mohd Yasin said the animal was believed to have strayed from its herd and habitat in the nearby Piah Forest Reserve.

“We tracked the elephant, which we estimate to be 15-years-old, for a few days after the locals notified us of its presence last December.

“The animal has been released at the Royal Belum Forest Reserve (yesterday),” he said.

Rozidan said the operation involved 20 department staff and took some four hours to complete.

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) field officer Meor Razak Meor Abdul Rahman expressed concern that there would be more conflict between villagers and elephant herds as the pachyderms’ habitats in the forested region of northern Perak continue to dwindle.

He said a previous study by SAM showed elephants often roamed in the Piah Forest Reserve and neighbouring Chior Wildlife Reserve.

“Some parts of the Piah Forest Reserve have been de-gazetted, causing the elephants’ natural habitat to gradually become smaller.

“When there is less food for them, some elephants, sometimes foraging in herds, will enter human populated areas to look for domestic crops as a food source,” he said.

Meor Razak alleged that logging activities carried out in de-gazetted areas had also driven the mammals towards human settlements.

“Logging activities create a lot of activity and noise that can scare off wildlife, including elephants.

“Often, human-elephant conflict happens because human activities are encroaching into the elephants’ territory,” he said.