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Enforce non-snaring policy, task force suggests

7th September, 2018

KOTA KINABALU: A task force set up to oversee the worsening elephant death issues in Sabah has come up with several recommendations including enforcing non-snaring policy.

Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC) which is among the various entities part of the task force said they are trying to find solutions to the increasing deaths that are caused directly and indirectly by humans.

DGFC Director Dr Benoit Goossens said these efforts include re-analysing past cases and post mortems as far as 10 years ago to ascertain the major cause of deaths.

Apart from that, he said all cases should be mapped to identify any hotspots of human-elephant conflict, poaching, snaring and poisoning.

“We need to identify the potential poisons that could lead to slow death of elephants and revise the use of herbicides and pesticides in oil palm plantations while increasing anti-poaching patrols in all protected and un-protected areas with presence of elephants,” he said.

Dr Goossens said authorities could create an intelligence unit that will gather all information, analyse it and feed back to the enforcement team on the ground.

He said authorities should enforce a zero snaring policy in Sabah’s protected areas, forest reserves, forest plantations and oil palm plantations.

“We need to also find newer and friendlier strategies for pest control (plants and animals) and do research on the impact of agrochemicals and heavy metals through soil and water to the forested areas,” he said.

Authorities as well as plantations can consider adopting an integrated electric fencing (mobile fencing) strategy so that elephant movements are not compromised, Dr Goossens said.

“We can continue monitoring the movements of elephants in all ranges by using satellite collars where the information provided will help design corridors and monitor potential risks of human-elephant conflicts,” he said. He said there were more than 25 reported deaths of pachyderms this year.

“It is difficult to identify the main factor. Some deaths are due to poaching, some are due to conflicts (elephants shot in plantations or near human settlements), poisoning (direct or indirect), and several deaths were caused by injuries from snares,” he said.

Dr Goossens said though snares were set up in the forest or in plantations to target wild boars and deer among other animals, elephants get accidentally caught in them and suffer severe injuries, septicaemias, and the animal usually die of starvation or infections.

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