Debbie Mair from the Hutt City Rotary Club writes that there is a lovely article in the latest Rotarian about the RAGES orphan elephants project.
Debbie, as a Board member and Project Director of RAGES, wants to fund the installation of a 3-tier reinforced cable enclosure for the critically endangered orphan elephants at Sepilok in Sabah, on the island of Borneo, which is part of Malaysia.
RAGES, together with the Sabah Wildlife Department, are working to minimise conflict between the elephants and the plantation owners. The enclosure, whilst providing security for the elephants, will help to reduce elephant/human conflict, minimizing deaths and destruction of farmland and villages and enabling man and elephant to co-exist peacefully.
Under Rotary’s area of focus this project incorporates 3 priorities:
- Peace and Conflict Prevention/Resolution
- Basic Education
- Economic and Community Development
There are a large number of visitors daily in the area at the Orang-utan Rehabilitation Centre, Discovery Centre and Sun Bear Conservation Centre all within 1 kilometre of this proposed enclosure.
The enclosure would:
- Provide a designated area for the elephants to act as a herd, enriching their lives and reducing their dependency on a care keeper.
- Optimise manpower and reduce the cost when only one ranger will be needed to supervise the 5 elephants in the enclosure
- Provide a safe environment to observe the behaviours of the elephants to learn how to prevent human/elephant conflict.
- Provide long-term education for the palm plantation owners about the viability and sustainability of elephant corridors. The programme of GPS collars on elephants, partially funded by NZ secondary schools and Interactors, will provide the data needed.
- Provide an opportunity to run educational programs for locals and students with a viewing platform to encourage eco-tourism to preserve critically endangered species. Eco Tourism is the second largest GDP contributor to the Malaysian economy.
- Employ locals as security, out in patrols, guiding and manning the BECC centre, therefore reducing poaching, snaring and the illegal pet trade. This is a current significant issue with international hunters poaching specific species (ivory and orangutans).
- Provide much needed funds from the entrance fees from visitors and tourists who come to observe the elephants (once the certification of the NGO is authorised). This would pay for the annual food and medical costs for the orphan elephants. the entrance fees to observe the elephants from visitors/tourists will raise much needed funds to pay for the orphan elephants annual food and medical costs. This would potentially make the Centre enclosure self-sustaining in the long-term.
The quoted cost for the entire project is NZ $6000. This is a small cost for the huge progression that a Borneo Elephant Conservation Centre enclosure would provide for the elephants.
More donations are needed to fund the installation of the enclosure. The orphan elephants currently spend twenty-three hours in individual pens in a restricted area. The proposed enclosure has walking track access to a viewing platform within a 9-acre sanctuary at Sepilok . More donations are needed and if you, or your club, would like to donate towards this project, you can find out how by clicking here.
The RAGES school colouring-in challenge promotes and raises awareness about the good work that Rotary is doing in Borneo. If you'd like to know more about this, contact Donna Reed, 021 362 802.
RAGES is also investigating the production of special v-necked T-shirts with this lovely sketch.