KLUANG: Residents of Kampung Seri Lukut here are living in fear of a herd of elephants which has been regularly rampaging through their village since last week, and have destroyed swathes of their oil palm plantations.
Villagers estimate that they have suffered thousands of ringgit worth of losses due to destroyed crops – but their worry now extends to their properties and lives, as they say some of the elephants have even “attacked” their homes.
The incursion has residents now questioning the effectiveness of an 18-kilometre fence along the village’s border which was built specifically to prevent infiltrations by wild elephants.
"Based on information from other villagers, the attacks… involve around 18 to 20 elephants which have appeared every night throughout this week.
“(Up to) 75 small farmers cultivating palm oil, banana, rubber, areca, sugar cane and coconut have had to bear thousands of ringgit in losses.
"This has forced the villagers to form a safety team, as they also worry about the safety of their families.
“This situation has also raised questions about the effectiveness of the 18-kilometre fence, as well as numerous efforts taken to prevent these wild elephants’ invasion,”
said Kampung Seri Lukut village head, Hasbullah Muhamad.
He said the elephants’ rampage tends to occur between 6pm and 7am.
“I hope the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) will take immediate action to solve this ongoing issue,” he added.
Farmer Mohd Yusuf Ibrahim said that rampaging elephants is not a new phenomenon, but that this episode is the worst he has ever seen, with two hectares of his oil palm plantation destroyed.
"Many efforts have been made to prevent this problem, but they have been unsuccessful.
"The question now is whether the fences are still working. There is no inspection or maintenance work being done by the parties responsible," he added.
When contacted, Johor Perhilitan deputy director, Shazwan Faiz Mohd Rozi, confirmed that he had received a report of the incident and that an investigation is being conducted.
He said that they will monitor the situation to ensure that the animals cease destroying the villagers’ crops or attack their houses.
"(Concerns) that the elephant fence is not working will be investigated, because regular maintenance should be done by the appointed party," he added.