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Malay govt to keep track of endangered elephants

Malaysia: A hundred years ago wild elephants on the Malay Peninsular could be counted in their thousands — now there are less than 1500. Now, using GPS and satellite communication technology experts from the University of Nottingham Malaysia Campus (UNMC) and the Malaysian Department of Wildlife and National Parks are tracking some of the remaining elephants to assess the effectiveness of the Malaysian Government’s elephant conservation and management practices.

On May 22, to coincide with International Day for Biological Diversity, the Malaysian Ministry of Natural Resources through its Department of Wildlife and National Parks signed memorandums of understanding (MOU) on research collaboration with the UNMC and 10 public Malaysian universities. The Department and UNMC also signed a memorandum of agreement specifically for the Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME) research project.

MEME is a five year research project led by Dr. Ahimsa Campos-Arceiz, an ecologist and conservation expert, in the School of Geography. The project received funding of RM 3.36 million (GBP 700,000) from a foundation set up by the Malaysian based multinational Sime Darby to help MEME develop a long term strategy to protect the country’s elephant population. Other important donors for the project are Singapore Zoo, Copenhagen Zoo, the National Zoo (US), US Fish & Wildlife Service and private philanthropists.

MEME and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks aim to develop a conservation strategy based on scientifically sound knowledge of elephant behaviour, ecology and a clear understanding of the underlying causes of human-elephant conflict. In the next few years they intend to fit 50 elephants (three per cent of the Malaysian elephant population) with GPS devices to monitor how they are responding to the changes in their habitat, how they react to translocation  — and what effect current conservation measures such as highway viaducts and wildlife corridors are having on the elephant population on the Malay Peninsula.

Source: University of Nottingham