Yayasan Sime Darby is funding RM8.11 million to support the 11-year research project
The world’s first publicly available human-elephant conflict (HEC) resolution mechanism is set to be developed, thanks to the partnership between academia and the public and private sectors.
The science-backed mechanism in the form of standard operating procedures (SOP) will be made public by the end of this year and it champions co-existence between humans and the endangered species.
This is made possible by a collaboration between the Management and Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME) project and Sime Darby Plantation (SDP).
MEME has been running since 2012 with support from Yayasan Sime Darby (YSD). YSD renewed its support for the project with a RM2.85 million commitment for three years from Jan 2020 until Dec 2022. The project’s phase 3 launch is commemorated by a memorandum of understanding (MoU) signing between YSD and MEME at the University of Nottingham Malaysia (UNM).
YSD previously committed RM3.36 million for the project’s phase 1 (Jan 2012- Dec 2016) and RM1.9 million for phase 2 (Jan 2017- Dec 2019), bringing the total commitment to RM8.11 million over an 11-year period. MEME and SDP employee and YSD environmental scholar Nur Aida Ab Ghani are developing co-existence solutions to form the SOP by combining research findings from the project.
The project’s long-term goals are to increase capacity-building and tolerance among communities, smallholders and plantations; to promote human-elephant co-existence on a national scale; and to enhance the protection of wild elephants and their habitats. The project also aims to empower relevant communities to increase tolerance towards elephants, as this will address the rising death toll of the endangered species in Malaysia.
YB Teresa Kok, Minister of Primary Industries who was present at the launch lauded the initiative and said it addresses the rising HEC incidences among villagers, plantation workers and the elephants.
“The government appreciates the efforts of the private sector and academia to find solutions to tackle HEC. This endeavour fuses knowledge from the plantation industry with research findings on elephant behaviour and ecology to produce evidence-based resolution.
“Agriculture and conservation must work hand in hand to achieve sustainable development. SDP for example, has gone above and beyond to develop the mechanism with the interest of elephants’ welfare at heart,” she noted.
YSD Governing Council Member, Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha said the SOP is being developed to form part of SDP’s Human-Wildlife Resolution policy under its Responsible Agriculture Charter (RAC). He announced that the SOP is set to be implemented across all SDP estates before the end of 2020.
“In the long run, this undertaking will empower plantations to understand Human Elephant Conflict patterns in their own area and enable adaptive management standards, as elephant behaviour and the nature of the Human Elephant Conflict may differ from one place to another.
“Once completed, the standard operating procedure will be made accessible to all relevant industries,” said Helmy who is also the Group Managing Director of Sime Darby Plantation.
MEME was established since 2011 as a joint research project between the University of Nottingham Malaysia and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks (PERHILITAN), with the aim to move towards evidence-based management and conservation of wild elephants in Peninsular Malaysia.
Dr Wong Ee Phin, the Principal Investigator for 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 human living together, two-thirds are experiencing conflict.
"The continued support from YSD has allowed MEME to continue our momentum, to move from knowledge generation to implementation on the ground. We need to work together with the agriculture communities to see how we can manage the conflict to a tolerance level that allows coexistence for long-term," she said.
Professor Deborah Hall, UNM’s Vice-Provost for Research and Knowledge Exchange said: “The MEME project represents one of our flagship sustainability programmes, working hand-in-hand with external partners to deliver pioneering research that changes lives.
"Our research enables local authorities and other policymakers to make evidence-based decision in elephant conservation and we are committed to building local capacity in conservation science and practice. We are delighted to sign this MOU in the year that we are also celebrating 20 years of a thriving global University in Malaysia."
MEME was involved in the drafting of the National 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. MEME supports the national Central Forest Spine Masterplan for ecological linkages, that aims to restore forest connectivity throughout Peninsular Malaysia.
Under its Environment pillar, to date, YSD has committed over RM153 million towards the protection of high conservation value ecosystems, vulnerable and endangered species as well as initiatives promoting the preservation of the environment and biodiversity.
About Yayasan Sime Darby
Yayasan Sime Darby, or Sime Darby Foundation, was established in 1982 and is the philanthropic arm of Sime Darby Plantation Berhad, Sime Darby Property Berhad and Sime Darby Berhad. With a vision to lead and make a sustainable impact and difference in the lives of others, YSD’s objectives are supported by its five pillars: education; environment; community & health; sports; arts & culture. While led by independent members of a Governing Council and managed by a dedicated team, YSD works closely with the three Sime Darby companies in areas of mutual interest. Since its inception, YSD has awarded scholarships worth RM268 million to 4,086 students both in Malaysia and abroad. Under its Community & Health pillar, YSD supports initiatives to promote the well-being of disadvantaged people irrespective of race, culture, religion, creed or gender — the YSD Sinar Harapan initiative commits RM1,000,000 annually, majority of which goes to the provision of school supplies for the underprivileged and a smaller amount for in-kind assistance during festive seasons. YSD’s conservation projects include the Sime Darby Plant–A–Tree programme in Pahang and Perak and the Protect Team to Combat Wildlife Poaching and Trafficking in Sabah. YSD is also actively involved in the development and improvement of sports in Malaysia — the YSD Chairman’s Trophy under the Sime Darby Football Development Programme (SDFDP) for example, aims to develop children (aged 8-15) to become multi-skilled professional footballers. Under the Arts & Culture pillar, YSD supports the development of a vibrant arts community in Malaysia through initiatives such as the biennial YSD Arts Festival (YSDAF) and ASK Dance Company’s Forging Traditions: Traditional Dance Training for Trainers Workshop. For more information on YSD, visit www.yayasansimedarby.com
About Sime Darby Plantation
Sime Darby Plantation is the world’s largest oil palm plantation company by planted area, producing about 4 percent of the global CPO output. It is also the world’s largest producer of Certified Sustainable Palm Oil (CSPO), with a CSPO production capacity of over 2.46 million MT.
As a globally integrated plantation company, Sime Darby Plantation is involved in the full spectrum of the palm oil value chain, from upstream to downstream activities, R&D, renewables and agribusiness. Its upstream operations which consist predominantly of oil palm cultivation, harvesting and milling are spread across Malaysia, Indonesia, Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands. Its downstream business, known as Sime Darby Oils, spanning across 14 countries worldwide, involves the manufacturing as well as the sales and marketing of oils and fats products, oleochemicals, palm oil-based biodiesel, nutraceuticals and other derivatives. Sime Darby Plantation is also involved in rubber and sugarcane plantations, as well as cattle rearing.
With a workforce of over 95,000 employees and a strong focus on operational excellence, research, innovation and sustainability, Sime Darby Plantation is one of the largest companies on Bursa Malaysia with a market capitalisation of RM35.98 bn (USD 8.69 bn) as at 14 February 2020.
For more information on Sime Darby Plantation, visit http://www.simedarbyplantation.com/
About Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants
Management & Ecology of Malaysian Elephants (MEME) is a research collaboration between The University of Nottingham Malaysia and the Department of Wildlife and Natural Parks (PERHILITAN) of Peninsular Malaysia. MEME is also part of an international elephant conservation group; two of MEME academics are members of the IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group and Conservation Connectivity Specialist Group, and one of MEME academic is member of the IUCN SSC Human Wildlife Conflict Task Force.
Since 2011, MEME has been conducting research to support evidence-based conservation and management of wild Asian elephants in Peninsular Malaysia. MEME has given more than 120 public talks and reached out to about 10,000 people. In terms of publications, MEME has published 25 articles in scientific journals and 24 articles in newspapers or online newsrooms. Over the last 8 years, MEME has received funds from 11 donors. Following MEME’s movement behavior study on elephants, 50 elephants were fitted with GPS-satellite collars – one of the largest movement data collection we have in this region.
For more information on MEME, visit www.meme-elephants.org
Article image caption: (from left to right) UNM Dean for Faculty of Science and Engineering Prof. Andy Chan, Principal Investigator of MEME, Dr. Wong Ee Phin, UNM Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, Prof. Ong Fon Sim, UNM Vice Provost for Research and Knowledge Prof. Deborah Hall, PERHILITAN Director-General YBhg. Dato’ Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim, Minister of Primary Industries YB Puan Teresa Kok, Sime Darby Plantation Group Managing Director Tn. Hj. Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha and Yayasan Sime Darby CEO Dr. Hjh. Yatela Zainal Abidin during MEME's Phase 3 agreement signing ceremony.
(Article image caption: (from left to right) UNM Dean for Faculty of Science and Engineering Prof. Andy Chan, Principal Investigator of MEME, Dr. Wong Ee Phin, UNM Vice Provost for Teaching and Learning, Prof. Ong Fon Sim, UNM Vice Provost for Research and Knowledge Prof. Deborah Hall, PERHILITAN Director-General YBhg. Dato’ Abdul Kadir Abu Hashim, Minister of Primary Industries YB Puan Teresa Kok, Sime Darby Plantation Group Managing Director Tn. Hj. Mohamad Helmy Othman Basha and Yayasan Sime Darby CEO Dr. Hjh. Yatela Zainal Abidin during MEME's Phase 3 agreement signing ceremony)
(Thumbnail image caption: Dr. Wong Ee Phin presenting at the event)
This press release is prepared by Yayasan Sime Darby.
For media enquiries please contact Josephine Dionisappu, PR and Communications Manager at University of Nottingham Malaysia.
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Posted on 18th February 2020