Ecotourism may help solve animal-human conflicts in Sabah, says minister

KOTA KINABALU: Ecotourism might be able to help control animal-human conflicts in Sabah’s Telupid district, says Datuk Jafry Ariffin (pic).

The state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister said that the Sabah government was looking at helping villagers generate income from elephants straying into residential areas.

“However, we need the cooperation of all parties if we want to see this plan succeed, including villagers and residents,” he said in a statement on Saturday (Sept 17).

He said this during a briefing on elephant conflict mitigation work in Telupid recently.

Jafry said if the initiative worked out as planned, there would be benefits for both humans and animals as conservation can be done while residents can generate an income.

Among other matters discussed during the briefing were plans to install a 1.7km-long electrified fence in identified areas to reduce further human-elephant conflicts in Telupid.

“We hope the government can consider allocating annual funding to maintain the operational costs of existing electric fences installed in the other villages in Telupid,” he said.

Jafry said as elephant and human conflict in the Telupid district was common, some of the initiatives taken to reduce the damages for both human and animal was to install a 3km-long electrified fence at Kampung Bauto and a 2.9km-long electrified fence at Kampung Gambaron.

He said no elephants had ventured into the fenced area since the end of 2019 when the fence was built.

This comes after a recent incident where a pygmy elephant strayed into a bungalow in Kampung Gambaron II on Sept 12.

The elephant appeared disoriented by the commotion from the public after seeing it there but managed to leave and go back into the nearby forest.

Wildlife rangers together with the Community Elephant Ranger Team (CERT), police and members from some non-governmental organisations later attempted to locate and translocate the elephant and the effort is still ongoing.

On the encroachment of elephants earlier this year, Jafry said that this was due to sections of the fence not working due to the loss of solar panels.

He added that this was believed to have been done by unscrupulous people.

Jafry warned the public against stealing public or government properties as this could cause a failure of the whole electrical fencing system.

“The bigger problem will ensue when these elephants go past the fenced areas,” he added.