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Wild elephants causing villagers sleepless nights

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JERANTUT: Villager Ishak Mukim Mat Ali could only watch in disbelief as a herd of elephants raided and destroyed his banana plantation in front of his house in Kampung Som here recently.

The 76-year-old was earlier awakened at 1am by the sound of something stirring in his smallholding, followed by sounds of falling trees.

When Ishak grabbed a piece of wood and opened the front door to inspect the source of the noise, he was shocked to find the pachyderms rampaging through the fruit trees and vegetable plantation which were 30m from his house.

"I could only watch helplessly as the mammals destroyed the crops.

"I think there were 12 elephants and there was also calves among them.

"After eating the crops, the group left 20 minutes later.

"Luckily, they headed back into the jungle and did not enter my house compound."

He said the elephants had become bolder and had damaged the fences around the smallholding.

He said the presence of the herd proved to be a serious problem for the residents as, previously, the animals attacked the farms, but now, they were roaming around the area.

"This is scary.

"How can the villagers sleep knowing that the elephants are eating the bananas and other crops in the smallholding just outside their homes?

"Previously, the herd of rogue elephants had destroyed several hectares of crops comprising banana, rubber trees and oil palms in the village."

Kampung Som Village Security and Development Committee chairman Abdul Rasid Abdullah Satar said the elephant attacks in the village, which has 400 residents, started in April 2009 and they would roam the neighbourhood between midnight and early hours of the morning.

He said the elephants did not only destroy the crops but also entered the Muslim burial ground in the village and damaged the tombstones.

"The elephants have knocked over and crushed dozens of tombstones, resulting in them cracking into pieces. There are also huge piles of elephant dung in the cemetery.

"The villagers are experiencing sleepless nights and I hope this nightmare will end soon."

Jerantut member of parliament Ahmad Nazlan Idris, who visited the village recently, said he had alerted the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) and it was finding a solution to end the villagers' woes.

"I am also negotiating with agencies to channel aid for the villagers, whose crops were destroyed by the elephants."

Jerantut member of parliament Ahmad Nazlan Idris (third from right) visiting a plantation ravaged by rampaging elephants in Kampung Som in Jerantut recently. Pic by Nazirul Roselan


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