Electrocution of Elephant Should Not Be Taken Lightly

Sahabat Alam Malaysia (SAM) is astounded at the death of yet another wild elephant in Gerik, Perak. The incident occurred on January 3rd when a 40 year old female elephant was electrocuted by a live wire on a construction site.

The herd of elephants come into populated areas foraging for food.  These pachyderms have lost their natural habitats due to  extensive and uncontrolled land clearance leading to increasingly fragmented habitats.  According to an elephant expert,  suitable habitat is lost when roads are built that traverse grasslands and bring automobile traffic.

SAM, NGOs, and members of the community have expressed concern on several occasions over the number of roadkill deaths  of elephants and other endangered species,   but it appears that the Malaysian Highway authorities have not considered addressing the many letters published in the media. Even letters from SAM to the highway authorities  have gone unanswered to this  day.

Malaysian elephants are exposed to dangers from all fronts – from becoming targeted by poachers, automobile accidents, poisoning, and shot or killed by plantation workers.  The future of our  elephants  is bleak.

The electrocution of this lactating female elephant brings to mind a similar incident in Sabah where 7 endangered pygmy elephants died in an abandoned quarry pond last year.  It is irresponsible to leave work projects that are a hazard to both human and animal.

Which government body, department, or agency is responsible for putting up the cabin and later abandoned  it upon completion of its project without  disconnecting its  electrical supply?  Who will be held responsible for this  unsafe worksite?  What if a human had ventured or gone near  the cabin and accidentally stepped on the live wire?

The loss of one elephant is a number less and what about its baby?  It may follow the herd but what are its chances of survival  without its mother?

This cause of death should be clearly investigated and not taken lightly by the Wildlife department.  Such irresponsible action of the parties involved should not be condoned.

Given this situation and neglect of safety protocol, SAM urges the Wildlife department to conduct an in-depth probe into the unfortunate incident and call for investigations and findings to be made public at the soonest time possible

Letter to Editor, 18 January 2018