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A large bull once lived in the jungles of Teluk Anson (Teluk Intan) with a large herd of elephants. The herd often went for a stroll to the edge of the jungle, close to the old Port Weld - Taiping railway line. It was not an exceptionally busy railway line - only a slow locomotive ran the track once daily, transporting goods and people to and from the port. One fateful day, as the elephants ambled across the tracks, as they probably had done a million times over, they failed to notice the goods train chugging down the tracks until the very last moment. In a desperate attempt to save the family, the bull rushed to the tracks and stood his ground, between the oncoming train and the herd.

The train rammed right into the elephant, the impact toppling the train. He managed to save the herd but sacrificed his life in the process. The British were so touched by the story of the elephant's sacrifice that they erected a monument where he lay as a remembrance to him and his family. The forgotten plaque still stands by the side of the now abandoned track - the only reminder of heroism beyond imagination. The elephant's skull was transported to Kuala Lumpur and can now be seen at the National Museum, standing as an emblem of unconditional love for his herd and social dedication to each member of his group.

Elephants were once common throughout Africa and Asia, but they dwindled severely during the 20th century, largely due to the massive ivory trade. While some populations are now stable and growing, poaching, conflict and habitat destruction continue to threaten the species. The largest land mammal on earth, the African elephant, weighs up to eight tons. It is distinguished by its massive body, large ears and a long trunk, which it uses as a hand to pick up objects, a horn to trumpet warnings, an arm raised in greeting or a hose for drinking water and bathing.

Asian elephants, however, are much smaller in size. Their ears are straight at the bottom, unlike the large fan-shaped ears of the African species. Only some Asian male elephants have tusks, whereas all African elephants, including females, have tusks. Elephants are either left or right-tusked, and the one they use more is usually smaller because of wear and tear. The Asian elephant has four toes on the hind foot and five on the forefoot; the African elephant has three on the hind foot and five on the forefoot.

Led by a matriarch, elephants are organised into complex social structures of females and calves. Male elephants prefer to live in isolation. A single calf is born to a female once every 4 to 5 years after a gestation period of 22 months - the longest of any mammal. The calves stay with their mothers for years and are also cared for by other females in the group.

Whether African or Asian, elephants need extensive land to survive. They roam in herds and consume hundreds of pounds of plant matter in a single day, so they require vast amounts of food, water and space. Thus, these large mammals often compete with humans for resources.

In Malaysia, elephants estimated at below 3 000 in total now, have been facing extinction for years. The biggest threat to the elephant population here is the massive clearance of the rainforests. Elephants used to have many thousands of square kilometres of rainforests where they could roam freely. Now, with roads, villages, cities and oil palm plantations taking over their homes, the elephants' natural migration path has been limited or destroyed. Moreover, their keen sense of smell leads them into trouble sometimes. Unable to resist the delicious roots of young palm trees, they sneak out into plantations at night to raid the nurseries, uprooting every tree in sight.

Often, the wild elephants are also entrapped in the middle of approaching development. In such situations, these frightened beasts bulldoze acres of freshly planted crops. Often, the plantation owners, tired of having to foot the bill for the damage, call the Department of Wildlife and National Parks to remove the elephants. Being strictly protected under the Protection of Wildlife Act of 1972 under the endangered species listing, culling of elephants is prohibited. The rangers track them down, capture and translocate the elephants to larger tracts of jungle areas, like the Kuala Gandah Elephant Conservation Centre where they can roam in peace.

   

Answer the following questions using complete sentences

 

1.

(a) From paragraph 1, why did the bull rush to the railway tracks in front of the oncoming train ?

(b) From paragraph 2, what did the British do to preserve the memory of the brave bull ?

 

2.

From paragraph 3,

(a) what is the main reason for the significant decline in elephant population last century ?

(b) state one use of the elephant's trunk

 

3.

From paragraph 4, why is one tusk smaller than the other in elephants ?

 

4.

(a) from paragraph 5, why are male elephants not included in the social structure of elephants ?

(b) From paragraph 6, why do elephants often compete with humans for resources ?

 

5.

From paragraphs 7 and 8,

(a) state one trait that causes elephants to run into trouble and the result of this trait.

Trait : _______________________________.

Result : ______________________________.

(b) why do you think culling of elephants is prohibited ?

 

6.

Based on the passage given, write a summary on the features and the habits of elephants, and why they are endangered in Malaysia and elsewhere.

Begin your summary as follows :

Elephants have drastically declined in numbers due to ivory trafficking ...

 

 

 

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Answers
 

1.

(a) He suddenly saw the oncoming train and stood between the train and the herd to save his herd from being run down by the train.

(b) They erected a monument by the side of the now abandoned track as a remembrance to the elephant and his family.

 

2.

(a) The massive ivory trade caused the significant decline in elephant population last century.

(b) It is used as a hand to pick up objects / a horn to trumpet warnings / an arm raised in greeting / a hose for drinking water and bathing. ( Choose any one )

 

3.

One tusk is used more and becomes smaller through wear and tear.

 

4.

(a) Male elephants prefer to live in isolation.

(b) As elephants roam in herds and consume huge amounts of plant matter every day, they require vast amounts of food, water and space.

 

5.

(a)

Trait : They have a keen sense of smell.

Result : They sneak out into plantations at night to get the delicious roots of young palm trees and raid the nurseries, uprooting every tree in sight.

OR

Trait : They are easily frightened by changes, such as development.

Result : When frightened, they bulldoze acres of freshly planted crops, causing severe losses to plantation owners. ( Choose any one )

(b) These elephants are endangered species.

  6.

Elephants have drastically declined in numbers due to ivory trafficking, poaching, development and habitat devastation. They have huge bodies, large ears and trunks used as hands, horns, raised arms or hoses. African elephants are bigger with tusks but lesser toes than their Asian counterparts. The females and calves move in herds but the bulls favor living alone. Calves are born after 22 months and looked after by the other females. Elephants need great quantities of food, water and land to survive. But threatened by deforestation  and development of land by humans, they cannot roam freely. Led by the smell of young palm roots, they destroy nurseries. Development also causes many frightened elephants to raze newly planted crops, so they have to be trailed, caught and relocated to sanctuaries for safety.

 
 
 
 
 

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Comprehension 1

 

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