Monday, October 31, 2011

Conservation boost for pygmy elephants in Sabah

KOTA KINABALU: Efforts to establish forest corridors along the lower Kinabatangan region – where isolated groups of wildlife are under threat – have received a boost with the recent collaring of five Borneo pygmy elephants.

Wildlife researchers said the four female and one male pachyderm would provide researchers with crucial information on the available elephant habitat in the region.

Dr Benoit Goosens of the wildlife research unit, Danau Girang Field Centre, said: “Extensive agriculture through oil palm plantations has considerably reduced the habitat of elephants in Kinabatangan, increasing human-elephant conflict.

“The herd there, estimated at about 200 to 250, is having difficulty moving between flooded lands, swamps, fenced plantations, villages and nature lodges,” he said yesterday.

To complicate matters, Dr Goosens said uncontrolled tourism with up to 20 boats along riverbanks increased the pressure on the elephants when they drink from the river.

“It is time we act to re-establish quality habitat and provide space for the elephants in the Kinabatangan region,” he added.

Three Bornean elephants were fitted with a satellite collar last week in the Lower Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary as part of a collaborative project between the Sabah Wildlife Department, the non-governmental organisation HUTAN and the centre.

Continue reading at: Conservation boost for pygmy elephants in Sabah

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