Human-elephant relations in Peninsular Malaysia

Lim, Teckwyn (2020) Human-elephant relations in Peninsular Malaysia. PhD thesis, University of Nottingham.

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In the Malay Peninsula, people have lived alongside Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) for around 55,000 years but our expansion now endangers the species. With the aim of gaining knowledge on how to we can live together in future, I reviewed the ecology, history, and management of human-elephant relations in the Peninsula.

I found that indigenous people (Orang Asli) occupied many of the same landscapes as elephants and, despite a degree of ecological overlap, managed to enjoy a convivial coexistence by following the pathways elephants created through the rainforest, and by subsisting off wild yams. Around 6500 years ago, a swidden-farming culture arrived and crop-raiding elephants were killed and occasionally eaten. Around 2500 years ago, new settlers arrived and elephants came to be sought for ivory, to be captured, tamed, and even exported.

Aspects of the traditional forager and swiddener cultures remain in Belum-Temengor, a priority elephant conservation site in the north of the Peninsula. Here, I surveyed 37 villages to examine beliefs, attitudes, and behaviour towards elephants. I found that tough elephants were the main source of human-wildlife conflict, most respondents considered the animals to be worthy of respect. Thre were some indications that younger respondents tended to have less tolerant attitudes.

To get a clearer idea on how to manage elephants in this landscape, I mapped the villages and monitored the movement of four elephants using satellite collars. I found that governement-sponsored rubber plantations, exposed villagers to elephant raids despite the construction of electric fences.

Based on these findings I propose a five-phase strategic intervention approach to elephant conservation: (i) land-use planning; (ii) barriers to protect people (including electric fences); (iii) compensation for losses; (iv) education and engagements; and (v) removal (killing or capture).

Item Type: Thesis (University of Nottingham only) (PhD)
Supervisors: Campos-Arceiz, Ahimsa
Lechner, Alex
Keywords: conservation biology, ecology, environmental history, geography, zoology, anthrology
Subjects: Q Science > QH Natural history. Biology
Faculties/Schools: University of Nottingham, Malaysia > Faculty of Science and Engineering — Science > School of Environmental and Geographical Sciences
Item ID: 59674
Depositing User: LIM, Teck
Date Deposited: 11 Feb 2020 04:40
Last Modified: 06 May 2020 10:50

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