PETALING JAYA: It will take three months to identify the poison that killed three elephants in Kluang, Johor, said Water, Land and Natural Resources minister Dr Xavier Jayakumar in a statement today.

He said that the type of poison is still unknown as the samples of the liver and kidney of the three elephants had to be sent to the Chemistry Department for analysis.

Xavier said that according to Perhilitan’s investigation, the private electric fencing surrounding the area - in which the elephants were found on Tuesday - placed by the villagers was not functioning which allowed the elephants to intrude into the area.

“Based on the size of the soles of the dead elephants, they were estimated to be 18, 20, and 22 years old, and it is believed the elephants were from a breakaway group in the Lenggor Forest Reserve in Johor,“ he said.

He said Perhilitan will cooperate with the Malaysian Palm Oil Council to make it compulsory to install electric fencing in oil palm plantations near forest reserve, he added.

Malaysia Nature Society (MNS) president Prof Dr Ahmad Ismail said that elephant conservation efforts must be taken seriously to ensure their survival.

“We must monitor their population to ensure there is no conflict with the human (environment). We need to know the size of a forest that will be suitable for the elephants’ surroundings, and this includes a systematic monitoring (of their movements).

“Additionally, all estate managers and the public should be equipped with knowledge in preserving wildlife. Laws must also play a strict role, including enforcement while taking into consideration the two sides (humans and wildlife). This is not only about penalties but also creating a reward system to ensure the ecosystem is secured.

“All government agencies must work together, not just the Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan). The forestry department, agriculture representatives, local authorities, and state parks must be involved in the preservation of wildlife in general, not just elephants, but tiger, tapir, sun bear, gaur (wild ox), and primates,“ he told theSun via WhatsApp today.

The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) estimates there are only 1,500 elephants left.