JOHOR BARU, Aug 17 — A Johor assemblyman urged the state government to continue developing the Kampung Panti Elephant Sanctuary in Kota Tinggi to address the growing number of wild elephants in the area.
Sedili state assemblyman Rasman Ithnain said the development of the first phase of the sanctuary, worth RM15 million, was expected to be completed by the end of this year but said it will not be enough to accommodate the number of the elephants involved.
“According to information from the Forestry Department, there are about 25 to 30 wild elephants in the area and this figure will not accommodate the first phase of the sanctuary,” Rasman said in a statement today.
The former Umno deputy division chief, who is now an independent assemblyman, said issues related to elephant disturbances have increased, especially in the Sedili area.
“This problem has been going on for over 20 years and has become a safety issue as several accidents caused by the wild elephants were reported.
“The elephants have also entered the Felda and Felcra areas, where they destroy villages and crops. We fear that this will threaten the lives of the people there,” he said.
Rasman said an accident involving a wild elephant with a car at Batu 8, Jalan Mawai here recently was the eighth case this year.
He urged the state government to continue the project onto the next phase.
“I hope the present state government will provide for additional budget in the near future so that the sanctuary can commence the next phase of development,” he said.
The Kampung Panti Elephant Sanctuary is located along Jalan Lombong in Kota Tinggi, near the Kota Tinggi waterfalls.
It is a joint project between the previous federal and state governments.
The proposal to establish the sanctuary was first mooted in 2014 as an effort to reduce the conflict between wild elephants and humans. It was also to serve as a tourist attraction for nature lovers.
Johor’s forests are home to about 140 wild elephants, with the majority of them in Segamat, Kluang, Mersing and Kota Tinggi.