SEMENYIH, Feb 19 — The world’s first publicly available human-elephant conflict (HEC) resolution mechanism is being developed with the partnership of the academia with the public and private sectors in the country.

The science-backed mechanism in the form of standard operating procedures (SOP) is made possible by a collaboration between the Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME) and Sime Darby Plantation Bhd (SDP) through Yayasan Sime Darby to champion the co-existence between humans and the endangered animals.

Primary Industries Minister Teresa Kok lauded the initiative and said it addresses the rising HEC incidences among villagers, plantation workers and elephants.

“We need to strike a balance between production in agriculture and protection of wildlife,” she said in her speech during the launching of Yayasan Sime Darby and MEME project phase three at the University of Nottingham Malaysia here, yesterday.

Also present were Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) director-general Datuk Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim; SDP group managing director Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha and MEME principal investigator Dr Wong Ee Phin.

In the next three years under phase three, MEME will be working with various communities on the ground through capacity building to find effective ways to help them manage HEC and test if the intervention is effective as it is aimed at not just reducing HEC, but also to increase the tolerance of the various communities towards elephants.

Kok said as the world’s second biggest palm oil producer, Malaysia places great importance on sustainable agricultural practices.

While noting that Malaysian palm oil is continuously being targeted by international non-governmental organisations (NGOs) as well as foreign countries, in particular the European Union (EU) for being unsustainable, Kok said Malaysia is committed to ensure sustainable practices in all the value chain of palm oil production.

“We are now moving towards a more dynamic and sustainable era, supported by new governance policies and with many areas being redefined by the current government such as the mandatory implementation of Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO),” she said.

Apart from that, she said Malaysia is now focusing on improving productivity and yields, rather than expanding land for oil palm cultivation.

Thus, the way forward is to focus on sustainable agricultural practices of the palm oil industry, she added. — Bernama