Elephants used to roam throughout the whole of Peninsular Malaysia. At present, only seven states in the peninsular still have isolated populations of elephants, with an estimated total of 1200 to 1500 individuals
The major causes of decline are forest clearance, land conversion for agriculture, and urban development. Roads cut off many travel routes and isolate elephant feeding grounds. So elephants are forced to encroach on human settlements and agricultural areas in search of food. This results in crop and property damage, and sometimes injury or death of humans. Affected people often want elephants to be translocated and may set out to kill problem elephants.
Why we need elephants
Elephants play an important role in maintaining the quality of our ecosystems and for the survival of other species:
- They travel across large distances through many habitats. They help disperse seeds over large areas through their dung. The seeds are often viable and regenerate into trees.
- They create waterholes for other animals by digging up riverbeds during the dry season.
- They help open up forest clearings for smaller herbivores to graze on grasses and fallen tree shoots or fruits.
Where we work
We are currently working in the Endau-Rompin landscape in Peninsular Malaysia, straddling the border of Pahang and Johor. These uplands are an important catchment area for several rivers.