Friends of the Earth Malaysia (FOEM) is astounded at the death of yet another wild elephant in Gerik, Perak. The incident occurred on January 3rd, when a 40 year old female elephant was electrocuted by a live wire on a construction site.
Herds of elephants come into populated areas foraging for food. These pachyderms have lost their natural habitats due to extensive and uncontrolled land clearance, and the fragmentation of remaining wild areas. According to an elephant expert, grasslands become unsuitable for elephants once traversed by roads and automobile traffic.
FOEM, NGOs, and members of the community have expressed concern on several occasions over the number of roadkill deaths of elephants and other endangered species. Yet so far it appears that the Malaysian highway authorities have not considered the many letters published in the media. Even letters from FOEM to the highway authorities have gone unanswered to this day.
Malaysian elephants are exposed to dangers from all fronts: targeted by poachers, poisoned and shot by plantation workers, and killed in automobile accidents. The future of our elephants seems bleak.
The electrocution of this lactating female elephant brings to mind a similar incident in the state of Sabah, where seven endangered pygmy elephants died in an abandoned quarry pond last year. It is irresponsible to leave work projects unattended that pose hazards to both humans and animals.
Which government body, department, or agency is responsible for putting up the cabin in Gerik, and after completing its project, abandoning the site without disconnecting its electrical supply? Who will be held responsible for this unsafe work site and the death it caused? What if a human had ventured near the cabin and accidentally stepped on the live wire?
The loss of one elephant is tragic enough, both for the individual and the species, but what about her baby? They may follow the herd, but what are their chances of survival without their mother?
This cause of death should be clearly investigated and not taken lightly by the Department of Wildlife. Such irresponsible action by the parties involved should not be condoned.
Given this situation and the neglect of safety protocol involved, FOEM urges the Department of Wildlife to conduct an in-depth probe into the unfortunate incident, and calls for investigations and findings to be made public at the soonest time possible.
Friends of the Earth Malaysia (FOEM)
Featured image: road sign warning of elephants in Gerik, Perak, Malaysia. Credit Daniel Chong Kah Fui דניאל 張家輝, CC BY-NC-ND 2.0