Relocating elephants – is it worth it?

Last week was quite a hectic week, my first full week on the new post. On Tuesday, the Alumni organised a talk in Chulan Tower. I was late because I got lost. There is a lot of construction in the area and the sign for Jalan Conlay has been removed. At 6.30pm, the area resembled a huge parking lot with engines on. And the tower doesn’t look like a tower at all considering the number of sky scrapers looming around it. Anyway, the the usherette told me to get the food and get into the lecture hall. Lo and behold, out of the 20 something audience already in the hall  I was the only one holding a plate of prepacked briani. The smell wafted around the room very quickly. I sure did make a grand embarassing entry. It did not help either when there was a big sign posted on the wall – “DO NOT CONSUME FOOD AND DRINKS IN THE ROOM, PLEASE”. Ha..ha.. I gingerly placed the plate on the next chair next to me and acted as if those food were poisonous and contaminated and I ain’t going to touch them. Damn usherette, why on earth did she asked me to bring the food into the room.

The first talk was about the research on the conflict between human and wild animals, especially elephants in this country. The aim of the research is trying to find amicable solutions or compromise to the conflicts. The researcher stated upfront that there is no solution but we can only find ways to mitigate the conflict. If you asked the urban dwellers, there would be very happy to see elephants being relocated to their natural habitat on the fringes of the kampongs and the jungle. If you the ask the kampong people they are also happy to see the elephants being relocated, but to the zoo, not to the jungle nearby. Ever heard of the phrase “memory of an elephant’? The mahut can remember where they were before. Did you know that the cost of relocating an elephant can run up to RM 40K. Interestingly, one elephant called Baung managed to track back to its original place 6 weeks after being relocated. RM40K became elephant dung? Speaking of dung, many facts were gleaned from the elephant dungs including their stress level. The researcher said by studying the chemicals in the dung, they can tell the hormon level of the elephant and thus drawing conclusion  that whether the elephant were stressed or not.  In fact since it was quite difficult and dangerous to get near to the wild  elephants, most of the data were obtained by studying their dungs. And here  we are complaining about Alam Flora. Spare a thought for the dungy life of the researchers.

They still are on the early stage of their research. So far they ave managed to tag only 30 elephants and the cost of the GPS-linked tag is quite hefty. They are still unsure whether the exercise done by PERHILITAN relocating elephant back to the jungle is worth it or not. Mammoth task indeed.

Human must learn to coexist harmoniously with elephants

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