Wild elephants cornered by rapid deforestation in Malaysia

Rampant deforestation leads to clashed between elephants and villagers in Southern Malaysia as both require tropical forest for survival. Photo: NWF.org

In the Southern parts of Malaysia, the rainforest area has decreased through the last 20 years and many elephants have become homeless. The large animals are facing difficulties in finding sufficient amounts of fodder and seek towards the villages where they feed on the inhabitants’ crops destroying everything on their way.

Amrat Saari, spokesperson of the village Kampung Lukut, said to Danish media TV2, that the villagers feel powerless, and that farmers continue to loose their income on palm oil and bananas. The village has attempted to prompt the local government to action, but nothing has yet happened.

As a defence strategy, the villagers throw fireworks at the elephants in an attempt to protect themselves and their livelihoods. There are 140 elephants in the area and 30-40 of them wanders aimlessly around the village.

TV2 reports the local sultan in the Johor-state, Ibrahim Sultan Iskandar, to have direct or indirect economic interests in a majority of the industrial projects leading to the deforestation. TV2 further brought forward that local newspaper, South China Morning Post, has declared the sultan so powerful that he is not obliged to obtain the otherwise necessary permissions to clear the forest on behalf on the palm oil plantations and mining projects causing  tremendous affects for animals and humans.

Deforestation contributes in large numbers to global CO2 emission rates since trees absorb CO2 as part of photosynthesis. When cleared, the forests release extremely high amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere contributing to global warming and thereby climate change. Mud slides, floodings, pollution and biodiversity loss are additionally well known effects of deforestation.

Although large companies have stopped clearing forest areas, the clearing continues as the companies buys already cleared land and thereby claims to not be contributing to deforestation. In this way, Malaysia has lost one third of its rainforests area and is the next largest provider of palm oil after Indonesia.

The local government in Kampung Lukut has tried to protect and assign a small piece of the forest for the elephants to feed and live in peace, but the area is not nearly large enough said Amran Saari, who has appealed to the government to expand the elephant-assigned area.

Malaysia has declared plans of preserving a part of the forest to protect plant- and wildlife, but has so far showed vague actions on the matter.

Malaysia is one of the countries “in the possession of” rainforest who has not signed a joint international declaration of halting deforestation by 2030.

Source: https://nyheder.tv2.dk/udland/2022-11-13-foer-levede-de-i-harmoni-nu-raserer-elefanter-landsby-flere-gange-om-maaneden

About Jeannette Hinrup

Jeannette Sophie Hinrup is a Danish environmental geographer traveling South East Asia while writing for ScandAsia.

View all posts by Jeannette Hinrup

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