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

30 January 2013, Kota Kinabalu – 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.

About WWF-Malaysia
WWF-Malaysia (World Wide Fund for Nature-Malaysia), the national conservation trust, currently runs more than 90 projects covering a diverse range of environmental protection work. Since 1972, WWF-Malaysia has worked on important conservation projects, from saving endangered species such as tigers and turtles, to protecting our highland forests, rivers and seas. We also undertake environmental education and advocacy work to achieve conservation goals. By conserving our natural resources, WWF-Malaysia is helping to protect our livelihoods, food and water supply, thus securing our good quality of life and our children’s bright future. We thank our supporters and members of the Media, whose contributions and support enable our conservation work. If you would like to donate to WWF-Malaysia or learn more about our projects please call: +603-78033772 or visit: wwf.org.my or www.facebook.com/wwfmy



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