By Azizul Rahman Ismail
Elephants in Peninsular Malaysia are in danger of becoming extinct, says World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) Malaysia. It is estimated that there are only about 1,220 to 1,680 Asian elephants left in Peninsular Malaysia. This is based on the data collected from 2000 to 2012 by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP).
WWF Malaysia Species Conservation manager Dr Han Kwai Hin said habitat loss, illegal hunting, and retaliatory killing are the major threats that cause the number of wild elephants to dwindle.
In a press statement commending the Royal Malaysian Customs recent success in seizing 24 tonnes of elephant tusks and ivory worth RM60 million in Port Klang last Monday, Han said effective wildlife conservation of elephants and other large mammals, requires a multi-pronged approach.
These include protecting the remaining forests and preventing further deforestation so that there are sufficient habitats for the wild animals to roam, stepping up enforcement efforts such as anti-poaching, wildlife patrolling, and curbing illegal wildlife trade, proper land-use planning in areas adjacent to forest reserves and state/national parks, and creating greater awareness among the general public on the importance of wildlife conservation.
On Monday the Royal Malaysian Customs Department successfully impeded the smuggling of elephant tusks and ivory worth RM60 million believed to be from Toga in Africa and was heading for China.
Han credited the operation as reaffirming the country's determined effort in combating illegal wildlife trade.
"We hope this would serve as a catalyst for all relevant enforcement agencies and stakeholders to work together in stepping up efforts to protect the country's wildlife, particularly the mammals such as the Asian elephant, Malayan tiger, gaur and tapir," said Han.