Coexistence with elephants: Palm oil plantation groups sign agreement to protect endangered species

KUALA LUMPUR: Major palm oil plantation groups have agreed to cooperate to coexist with elephants.

The groups are Sime Darby Plantation, IOI Plantation, Aramijaya Agri and Agro Sdn Bhd, FGV Holdings Bhd and Felda.

Other signatories to the agreement, witnessed by Perhilitan Protected Areas Director Salman Saaban here on Wednesday June 22, are the University of Nottingham in Malaysia and the non-profit organization Earthworm Foundation.

The agreement is among the first multi-agency human-elephant coexistence projects in Peninsular Malaysia using a large-scale landscape approach, covering 19 estates in Johor with around 9,000 people.

Kulim (Malaysia) Plantation and Wildlife Conservation Society-Malaysia Program has not signed the agreement but is currently working with the coalition.

There are approximately 1,200 to 1,700 elephants in Malaysia, where they are a fully protected species.

“This is a great initiative that provides an active platform for plantations and conservation groups to collaborate and exchange knowledge, creating a win-win situation for people and for wild elephant conservation.

“Johor is currently a hotspot for elephant-vehicle collisions. This endangers the lives of humans and elephants, and incurs additional costs from damage to vehicles,” Salman said.

“I hope we can expand the project to other regions,” he added.

Johor Forest Department Director Datuk Salim Aman said corridor initiatives under the Achieving Coexistence with Elephants (ACE) project would also strengthen his ongoing efforts on the ground to re-establish ecological links in the backbone. of the central forest.

By working in a coalition across Segamat, Kluang, Mersing and Kota Tinggi, the ACE project attempts to increase people’s sense of security and help the agricultural sector responsibly mitigate human-elephant conflict.

At the same time, it enables scientific research into the roaming behavior of elephants and their habitat needs.

Senior researcher in Malaysian elephant management and ecology from the University of Nottingham in Malaysia, Dr Wong Ee Phin, said Malaysia still has a good number of animals.

“We want to have the support of plantations to responsibly manage human-wildlife conflict,” she said.

The coalition said it hopes other plantations in Johor will be willing to follow suit and support coexistence efforts.

He said he had also identified five potential corridors for elephants in the landscape and was currently in the process of selecting two with the greatest advocacy potential.

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