By MARK RAO / Pic by AFIF AB HALIM
The Export-Import Bank of Malaysia Bhd (EXIM Bank) has committed about RM200,000 to the elephant conservation effort at the Kuala Gandah National Elephant Conservation Centre.
The government-owned development bank wants to increase public awareness of the native Asian elephants which are endangered in the wild. It is estimated that there are less than 40,000 of these majestic animals worldwide, mainly spread in over 13 countries across Asia.
Unlike the African elephants that are killed by poachers for their ivory, Asian elephants are facing habitat loss due to massive development.
EXIM Bank chairman Datuk Mat Noor Nawi said the bank wants to increase public awareness of the Pahang-based conservation centre and its ongoing relocation efforts to save the Asian elephants.
“Other than helping with the efforts of relocating and housing threatened, infant and handicapped elephants, EXIM Bank wants to educate the public on this issue,” Mat Noor said at the Kuala Gandah Conservation Centre yesterday.
The bank has embarked on promotional campaigns to raise the awareness of saving Asian elephants which started on Aug 8 and will end on Aug 12.
EXIM Bank is also refurbishing the information counter at the elephant sanctuary to enhance its image and producing 50,000 brochures which will detail facts about the Asian elephants.
Set up in 1989 by the Department of Wildlife and National Parks, the elephant sanctuary has relocated about 800 wild elephants threatened by habitat encroachment and poaching in Peninsular Malaysia. There are about 1,200 elephants in Malaysia.
EXIM Bank is also providing a prosthetic leg for a 12-year old elephant that lost her leg due to a poacher’s trap when she was only two years old.
Mat Noor said that funding has been one of the main issues faced by the conservation centres and sanctuaries like Kuala Gandah.
He said the participation of more corporations is critical to address the funding issue.
“EXIM Bank is the first, player from the corporate world to contribute to the Kuala Gandah centre.
“We are happy to be the first and hopefully more corporate leaders will become aware of the situation and contribute to the cause.”
The cost to relocate one wild elephant can be as high as RM50,000, pressing sanctuaries like Kuala Gandah to seek more fund.
Mat Noor said the wholly owned government agency will do what it can to address the funding gap.
“In the future, it is hard to say where our corporate social responsibility initiative will take us. But addressing the issue of endangered species in the country is something we want to play a part in,” he said.
The World Elephant Day falls on Aug 12 this year and will see the Kuala Gandah National Conservation Centre organising a host of activities centred on the Asian elephants.