The GoM-UNDP project’s main aim was to ensure and maintain revenue for the socio-economic development in Sabah by bringing the management of critical protected areas and connecting landscapes under a common management umbrella. The Sabah Forestry Department raised concerns of human-elephant conflicts (HEC) in the project area especially in relation to a 33,000 ha area of forest that was to be converted to oil palm in the near future. A Technical Working Group comprised of local and international experts with vast experience in various fields was formed to address and provide credible current information on biodiversity within the GoM-UNDP project area. Nurzhafarina Othman and Benoît Goossens are part of this working group.
DGFC, in collaboration with Sabah Wildlife Department and WWF-Malaysia collared several adult females with GPS satellite tracking devices in the GoM-UNDP area. One of the collared females (Dara) was part of the herd from which 14 individuals were found dead in Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in January 2014. The main objective of the collaring program was to better understand movement and ranging behaviour of elephants within the changing landscape in the Gunung Rara and Kalabakan regions, thereby helping in management planning for these areas and to find long-term solutions to HEC by better land use planning. The information provided on the ranging patterns, habitat use, behaviour and ecology of the elephants within the project area led to the inclusion of elephant’s needs in the planning. In particular, a broad north-south corridor (to include low-lying forest) to maintain connectivity between the INIKEA area with the Mt Magdalena Forest Reserve was identified and immediately gazetted to a First Class Forest Reserve by the Sabah Forestry Department.