LETTER | Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is shocked to learn of the death of six more pygmy elephants, deaths which have been happening ad nauseam for several years now.
Elephants are not an exception because the carnage to turtles and sharks has been making headlines in the previous year, which is reflective of poor government protection. That the slaughter is happening frequently can only mean that those entrusted with the task of protection are not doing enough.
So far those responsible for these kills have not been charged, and the cause of death of the pygmies and others have yet to be established. Most killings end with unresolved investigations.
Knowing how critically endangered the pygmy elephants are, the stakes for this species’ survival are too high for incidents of this sort to happen again. The same can be said for the many other animal species which are currently fighting to survive in Sabah which is plagued by palm oil production.
While the palm oil industry’s crippling blow to the orangutan species is monumental, the industry has the blood of other species on their hands as well.
The news of the deaths of these elephants has put a huge negative spotlight on Sabah. Sadly Malaysia is sacrificing its elephants for palm oil.
Recognising the high demand and huge profits that are associated with palm oil, the industry has stopped at nothing to produce as much of this commodity as possible. With the expansion of deforestation and the proliferation of palm oil plantations, elephants are finding it difficult to find food and thus are forced to feed on the fruits of the palm oil plant.
Considered as a pest or a threat to palm oil production, they are subjected to retribution by palm oil producers. Every year, elephants are found either shot dead or poisoned across Sabah’s elephant home ranges, though the public often hears nothing about it.
It is clear that the previous government had not taken any immediate, effective action to prevent the future deaths of pygmy elephants or to hold those accountable for these elephant deaths.
Moreover, it does not have the political will to adopt more drastic actions against the big logging companies and plantations. Though an action plan has been developed for conservation of the Bornean elephant, implementation has been seriously wanting.
There is a glimmer of hope now that the government has changed hands and SAM is delighted to learn of the actions of Chief Minister Haji Mohd Shafie in taking the necessary and appropriate action to stop more unnecessary deaths to Sabah’s wildlife species.
It is indeed a step in the right direction.
To save the pygmy elephants, the forests of Sabah must be restored. At the very least, wildlife corridors must be created to allow elephants to move from one fragmented patch of forest to another, preventing them from becoming trapped in a forest island. Other measures include curbing palm oil plantations and creating more national parks.
SAM calls on the government and the wildlife authorities to take concrete and immediate action to prevent more untoward deaths of Sabah’s precious wildlife as this is a matter of utmost public interest that warrants the highest level of priority.
The writer is president, Sahabat Alam Malaysia.
The views expressed here are those of the author/contributor and do not necessarily represent the views of Malaysiakini.
Unrestrained power in your hands
For almost 20 years, Malaysiakini has stayed true to the cause of providing the Malaysian public with the truth. We believe that with unadulterated information, the people will obtain power to make informed decisions.
Decisions which lead to a healthy, robust nation - ours!
Keep the truth alive. Support your robust, independent media. You have the unrestrained power to do so.
Who says it's not our fault?
We aren’t trained to take responsibility.
Everytime we observe an injustice - and choose to keep mum - the prevalence of injustice becomes our fault.
Astute journalism paves the way for the public to be continuously furnished with the fastidious truth. You are continuously empowered to act and to uphold the integrity of the nation.
The Rakyat owns Malaysiakini
We choose to take a risk on independent media because we believe that only through independent reporting can one be NOT beholden to the interest of businesses or organisations. This allows us to really pursue the truth - aggressively.
Independent for 20 years.
The victorious people
In the light of holding the truth to power, Malaysiakini will continue to uphold its mission of providing credible news to its discerning public. Your support for Malaysiakini is always treasured as a testament of innate nationalism. Your victory is our history.
Quietly. Effectively. Says it all. Malaysiakini.
Speaking truth to power
When we embarked on this journey 20 years ago, we knew we would face intimidation, harassment, raids, arrests and perhaps even jail terms. We got into this venture with our eyes wide open.
The main reason we have survived this long - when many others have folded - is partly because we are prudent in our finances. But while we may be tightfisted in our budgeting, we do not hold back when it comes to speaking truth to power and holding power to account. And certainly, this new administration will not stop us from continuing to do so.