Rise in local elephant poaching rings alarm bells nationwide


KUANTAN: When it was reported that Malaysia has emerged as a major transit point for African ivory, many were shocked.

But the recent killings of elephants in the country have taken many by surprise.

A former Perhilitan ranger said that elephant poaching in Malaysia was almost unheard of in the past, but the significant price for Asian elephant ivory tusks has prompted some to engage in the illicit and immoral activity.

He said that although reported cases of poaching are rare, it remains unknown how syndicates operate and the precise locations of their activities in Peninsular and East Malaysia.

“(These people) are certainly not amateurs. They know their job and (who to sell the tusks to). It is not every week that you can find an elephant with tusks and kill it easily.... it only happens by chance.

“In the past, elephants were butchered in certain African countries and the tusks were smuggled into Asia, where they were turned into carved ornamental ivories.

“Malaysia has no domestic industry for ivory products, so the tusks (of Malaysian elephants) are sent abroad,” he said.

“Malaysia has no domestic industry for ivory products, so the tusks (of Malaysian elephants) are sent abroad.” Pix courtesy of Perhilitan

Meanwhile, state Perhilitan director Ahmad Azhar Mohamed urged the public to play a more significant role in helping to combat elephant poaching by providing tip-offs to Perhilitan.

“People must realise that when an elephant leaves a forest, it means that the mammal is facing a conflict, and poachers would often target the elephant. Do not wait until the elephant reaches a village to inform us.

“Please immediately alert us in case you spot elephants near plantations, as we will send our rangers to do the necessary. The Orang Asli community and various non-governmental organisations are also cooperating with us to ensure the elephants always remain in their habitat,” he said. About elephants:
• All African elephants, both male and female, have tusks, whereas only some Asian males have tusks.

• Asian elephant tusks are named “gading jantung” and “gading rotan.”

• Gading jantung is solid and measures about 1m long, while gading rotan is hollow, measuring some 1.5m long

• Asian elephant tusks weigh between 10 and 15kg © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd