KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government will meet with stakeholders to discuss a proposed “Elephant Food Corridor” in the lower Kinabatangan area in January.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said the state government will be calling related NGOs, plantation companies and the community involved on how to proceed with the food corridor.
It is aimed at minimising human-elephant conflict as elephants have started seeking food outside forested areas.
One of the things they would be discussing is appointing villagers around the area to plant food along the corridor, said Liew who is state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister.
“We are currently at the planning stage. Hopefully, when implemented, the elephants would no longer roam in plantations to find food.
“The gazetted Kinabatangan Wildlife Sanctuary has an area of 25,000 hectares and the size of the proposed Elephant Food Corridor is going to be determined according to the food planting needs for elephants in this particular sanctuary.
“This is only one of the approaches, there will be other measures; other than the lower Kinabatangan side, we will identify areas in forests all over the state with elephant populations to become patches of sanctuary and grow elephant food there,” she told reporters.
She said this after launching the Asian Elephant Specialist Group’s (AsESG) 10th meeting here on Thursday (Dec 5).
She was representing Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal who is at a working visit to Japan.
Shafie in his speech, read out by Liew, said it was not too late for Sabah to do its best in Bornean pygmy elephant conservation to ensure the species did not end with the same fate as the Sumatran rhino, which has gone extinct with the last female dying a couple of weeks ago.
“We must not hesitate to take drastic actions and initiate programmes that will create the ultimate goal of having a sustainable landscape to support free-ranging breeding populations of elephants in Sabah.
“For that to happen, we must work towards changing the letter ‘C’ in human-elephant conflict (HEC), from conflict to co-existence.”
Meanwhile, AsESG chairman Vivek Menon said the Borneo elephant has already been determined as a distinct Bornean species despite controversies in the past that it might come from outside the locality.
“But now there is enough conclusive proof; fossils have been found here as well as genetics showing very clearly it (the species) is at least 18,000 years old in Borneo, and may even be hundreds of thousands of years.”
The three-day meeting, which started on Wednesday (Dec 4), was attended by 175 participants comprising AsESG members, government officials from the 13 Asian elephant range countries, as well as presenters and observers from nine other non-elephant countries.
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