By Roy Goh and Laili Ismail
KOTA KINABALU: A series of action plans have been taken to further protect the Bornean Pygmy elephants in Sabah which are on the brink of extinction. Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said the elephant population is currently in the Red List of Threatened Species, a guiding system issued by United Nation’s International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN).
“According to a research carried out in 2010 by Sabah Wildlife Department and World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia, there are 2,040 elephants in the State.
“The Red List considers a species is endangered when its adult population is less than 2,500 individuals, when there is a possibility of over 50 per cent decline in population within three upcoming generations as well as when the population is fragmented.
“Based on the list, the elephant population in Sabah is therefore endangered based on the criteria provided,” Pang said.
In replying a question from Datuk Abdul Rahim (BN- Pantai Manis) he said in a conservation effort, the Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry through the Wildlife Department has come up with the Elephant Action Plan 2012-2016.
“The management guide outlined three main strategies . First, non-site specific priority actions such as handling Managed Elephant Range (locations that have 125-150 elephants) and establishing the Bornean Elephant Conservation Alliance, among other steps.
“The second strategy is site-specific priority actions are to manage Major Elephant Range which are located at upstream and downstream Kinabatangan, central Sabah. Tabin and Ulu Kalumpang.
“Meanwhile off-site conservation efforts also play an important role in managing small and remote population outside of Managed Elephant Range where translocation is the last solution and where sick an injured elephants are put in the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary.
“These steps have to be taken in an integrated manner to ensure a controlled breeding rate among the elephants,” Pang said adding that elephant-human conflict is expected to be unavoidable unless the related parties take mitigating actions.