damaged young oil palm tree
the ECTU is contacted...
..and the calls are promptly recorded for action!
The Elephant Capture &
ECTU was created in
1974 to address the problems of wild elephant intrusions into crash crop planted areas owned
by individuals, private plantation groups such as IOI Berhad, Guthrie Berhad & semi-government
agencies such as FELDA, FELCRA & RISDA.
What used to be their natural habitat had been cleared and replaced with oil palm, rubber, cocoa,
watermelons, banana and other crash crops which resulted in a hard-to-resist
temptation for the wild elephants to raid these areas during the
late evenings and early mornings unchallenged.
To further protect the
elephants, the ECTU
has been moving
elephants from areas of conflict to permanently protected areas.
'They never do any harm unless
even though they go
about in herds, being of all animals the least
solitary in habit.'
Pliny the Elder, Historia Naturalis, AD 77
In the early days of the
1974, the method of eradicating the
problem was simply shooting & killing the elephants on sight
- until the numbers decreased alarmingly and the unit decided to
manage the problem by using a combination of scientific and manual method of translocating
the elephants. Armed with dart guns filled with the Immobilon drug, the rangers would
painstakingly track down raiding elephants on foot and 4WDs, knock out the intended elephants,
secure them to trees using shackles & stainless steel chains and then use the strength
of tamed working elephants to drag out their captured wild cousins onto trucks before
releasing the problematic elephants to bigger and safer jungle reserves.
The team also operated on
approach long before
the setting up of Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre.
The men had to camp in areas where there were problems for as
quick as 1 month and as long as 2 years in one place where they took turns
in taking leave to be with their loved ones.
Instead of using chains, they used jute ropes and used the direct approach
in capturing wild elephants - riding on tamed elephants, wading into the wild herds and
throwing lassos onto the smallest elephants they could get.
This method was stopped as it was unsuccessful due to the complications
arising from the local terrain and replaced with the method of darting wild elephants with
powerful drugs and using tamed elephants to lead and drag lightly
sedated wild elephants onto waiting trucks.
So far, between 300 to 500
wild elephants have
been removed from
their steadily shrinking habitats to their new homes in Taman Negara in Pahang & Terengganu,
Upper Royal Belum Forests Reserve in Perak & Endau-Rompin State Park
at the Johore/Pahang borders.
In the course of these translocation, the unit has suffered one death of
its rangers, several seriously injured personnel while about
40 wild elephants due to stress since 1978
The financial costs,
manpower required makes the
translocation a difficult, dangerous and expensive process.
Any takers out there?
plantation workers keep an
the elephants come from dusk to dawn
ECTU on 4wd patrols
,458 rifles to protect the team
from charging elephants.
Immobilon used for knocking
out the elephant temporarily
.458 bullets used to bring an elephant
down during emergencies
mr / encik kamarudin
Wild elephant translocation must be painstakingly
& executed with expert skills and knowledge.
One must also have a cool head when a 4 ton giant charges at almost 40kph
through the dense jungles!
In the hot, humid and shady environment, detecting a wild elephant is
very difficult and dangerous.
Elephants can be unpredictable ; in particularly a young male elephant may be aggressive
and charge in an attempt to exert its authority!
is used to bring down an elephant at a distance of
not less than 10 metres
; this means the dart man has to skillfully and quietly make his way close to the
intended elephant while being protected by two .458 rifle totting colleagues,
in case the elephant charges.
Applying Immobilon is itself a highly
where a drop of this powerful drug can cause a man to go into coma almost
immediately if exposed to an open wound!
The standard amount used is usually 4cc of Immobilon which should
be enough to bring down an adult elephant.
It usually takes about 10 to 15 minutes for the drug to
be effective onto the elephant.
Once the elephant has been darted, it it
usual for the elephant
to try and pull out
the dart while sending cries of help to its herd.
This is a most
dangerous time when the
elephant may charge at full speed.
All the while, the rifle team is in contact with the 2nd team
of chainmen - about 150 metres away - using walkie talkies.
It is also noted that darting an elephant also depends much on the terrain
- swampy areas are a NO GO as the elephant
might drown even under a foot of water and the riflemen might
also be bogged down in case the elephant makes an about
turn and attack the team!
The area of the hunt should also contain enough big trees to secure
the sedated elephant and for the team's protection against attacking elephants.
All the men are always in jungle camouflaged uniform and wearing
laced up jungle boots.
" You will die
a thousand times over and over again "
when you hear the growling of an enraged wild elephant, not knowing where
it is lurking and coming in from the dense and humid green hell!
Total silence is of upmost priority!
elephant foot print
applying the dangerous Immobilon
he's on to it
......and down it goes!
eyes wide shut!
it's booked and cuffed
the team works together to ensure
that the chains hold the elephant
...while making sure that it's protected
from the heat of the sun
Once the targetted elephant is darted, it
will slowly move away
while sounding the alarm bell to the rest of the herd.
The leader of the herd, which is the matriarch, will always
lead the rest of the herd away ensuring that all the
smaller elephants are protected all the time.
The rifle team will
the trails left by the darted elephant and once found,
the 2nd team - the chainmen - will quickly do their job of ;
1. Ensuring that the darted elephant lies down in a correct position where there should not be any
protruding rocks or wood against the elephant's side as this will most likely cause both the elephant's
lungs to crush the heart. Rangers must accurately take note of breathing sounds of the slumped
elephant which will determine whether or not the airway is restricted. If it is, they will have to apply
heart stimulant drug to ensure that the animal will continue breathing normally.
2. In the meantime, the
riflemen will stand
guard in case the rest of
the herd, particularly the
aggressive males, will come charging to protect their darted colleague.
The chainmen will quickly secured the
front legs of the darted
to a big tree while
to revive it will be done using a dose of the Revivon drug which will be injected behind the elephant's ears.
To increase the spread of the reviving drug, flapping of the ears are done thus speeding up blood circulation.
rangers stand guard against
possible attackes from the herd
down but not out!
Revivon - the reviving drug
the hunter becomes the savior
where am i?
The whole process
is very military-like
with precision timing
and demands absolute courage, committment, discipline,
sacrifices and unflappable understanding!
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