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Ensuring the peaceful coexistence of humans and elephants


As today is World Environment Day, the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM) would like to pay tribute to the conservation of wild elephants, a significant research conducted by the University of Nottingham Malaysia.

Elephants are among nature’s most fascinating creatures, but over the decades, their numbers have dropped dramatically due to poaching and habitat loss. Fragmentation of forest has increased the overlap between humans and elephants’ home ranges, resulting in more conflict. Recent news from South Asia about a pregnant elephant being fed a pineapple filled with fire-crackers that ultimately killed the creature, sent shock waves through the world.

Elephants are known as gardeners and engineers of the forest. Wild elephants help to maintain the forest’s ecosystem dynamics by playing a vital role that no other wildlife can replace.

To manage and conserve wild elephants in Peninsular Malaysia, the Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME) was set up in 2011 as a joint research project between UNM and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks of Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN). MEME is a collaborative effort among the private sectors, academia and the government in managing the human-elephant conflict.

Dr Wong Ee Phin, the Principal Investigator of MEME said, “Wild elephants require large roaming areas and a big portion of their habitat lies outside of protected areas. In Peninsular Malaysia’s landscape where we still have elephants and humans living together, 67% (two-thirds) are experiencing conflict. We need to work together with agricultural communities to manage this conflict to a tolerable level that allows co-existence for the long-term.”

MEME also recognises the importance of habitat protection for Asian elephants and is now advocating for the protection of the greater Ulu Muda forest together with the Friends of Ulu Muda. This forest complex is a crucial water catchment for 4.2 million people in Kedah, Perlis and Penang, and is a valuable natural heritage for future generations. MEME was also involved in the drafting of the National Elephant Conservation and Action Plan (NECAP), which was launched in 2013, and is one of the key members of MyGajah, the steering committee led by PERHILITAN that oversees NECAP’s implementation.

In addition, MEME supports the national Central Forest Spine Master Plan that aims to restore the connectivity of fragmented forests throughout Peninsular Malaysia.

Professor Graham Kendall, Provost and CEO of UNM said, “We are fully behind the work that MEME is doing, especially in its efforts to allow humans and elephants to coexist and in the protection of the greater Ulu Muda forest.”


For media enquiries please contact: Josephine Dionisappu, PR and Communications Manager University of Nottingham Malaysia at  

Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage, consistently ranked among the world's top 100. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our 44,000 students - Nottingham was named both Sports and International University of the Year in the 2019 Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide, was awarded gold in the TEF 2017 and features in the top 20 of all three major UK rankings. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally.

Posted on 5th June 2020

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