Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) still occur in isolated populations across much of their historical range. In Peninsular Malaysia, elephants still occur in six of the eleven states. However, the most viable populations are likely to exist in the three largest forested areas which contain significant protected areas: Taman Negara in central Peninsular Malaysia which, at 4,343 square kilometres, is the largest intact forest block; the Belum-Temengor complex in the north; and the Endau-Rompin landscape in the south. In Peninsular Malaysia there only exists two robust elephant population estimates using dung counts in a couple of protected areas, which were both conducted more than ten years ago. Hence, there is a clear need to have a better understanding of how the population is faring and to boost efforts to save the last southern population of elephants in Peninsular Malaysia.

The main threats towards elephants in Malaysia are poaching, human-elephant conflict, as well as habitat loss and fragmentation. For poaching, at least three cases have been detected in the landscape in the last five years while three elephants have been recorded to be injured by snares. In terms of conflict, Johor State had the highest number of human-elephant conflict cases in Peninsular Malaysia for almost a decade. Human deaths and damages of crops caused by elephants lead to retaliatory killing, which resulted in at least five elephant deaths since 2018 while four were killed via vehicle collision. Consequently, conservation efforts to promote human-elephant coexistence is critical to ensure a perpetual elephant population in the Endau-Rompin Landscape.

What we do

WCS commenced work in the Endau-Rompin Landscape in 2007 in the state of Johor under the Johor Wildlife Conservation Project, and subsequently expanded into the neighbouring state of Pahang in 2010 under the Pahang Forest and Wildlife Conservation Project. The Johor Wildlife Conservation Project serves as a platform for tiger and elephant conservation, with Johor National Parks Corporation as the lead agency. The partners are the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Johor State Forestry Department, the Royal Malaysia Police, Kulim (Malaysia) Bhd. and WCS. Under the two projects, various efforts have been undertaken to ensure the continued survival of the endangered Asian elephant. These include the monthly multi-agency patrols, capacity building for anti-poaching work, elephant monitoring, human-wildlife conflict mitigation, outreach and awareness. Moreover, WCS has supported the Department of Wildlife and National Parks to produce the National Elephant Conservation Action Plan, which has been used to guide the elephant conservation efforts in Peninsular Malaysia.

In collaboration with the Johor National Parks Corporation and Department of Wildlife and National Parks, WCS conducted a survey to determine and track the conservation status of elephants, and uses this information to update conservation management plans. In 2008, elephant population size was estimated to be 135 (95% CI = [80, 225]) individuals using the dung-count surveys.

To encourage human-elephant coexistence, WCS has engaged both the local indigenous smallholders and the agricultural sectors to manage and mitigate the human-elephant interactions outside of forest areas. For smallholders, WCS has introduced a low-cost siren fencing technique as an early-warning system to detect elephant visitations, allowing smallholders to guard their orchards while getting rests at night. For the agricultural sectors, an understanding of how barriers like electric fences and elephant ditches affect elephant movements, and of the pattern of elephant movements outside of forest areas are critical to demarcate and allow safe elephant passages.

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