Dead elephant maybe due to conflict with humans, said Sabah wildlife authorities

By JULIA CHAN
Wildlife officials conducting a post mortem on the dead elephant. — Picture courtesy of Sabah Wildlife Department

KOTA KINABALU, Aug 7 — A female elephant found shot to death just 100m outside a forest reserve boundary in Kinabatangan could have been the work of hunters, or angry plantation owners.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said that the elephants had gunshot wounds on its head, stomach and waist, and was believed to have been shot a week earlier with the BB pellets penetrating its internal organs.

“Could have been done by a trigger happy hunter or someone angry at it for causing damage to the palm trees,” he said.

Tuuga said they were still investigating the motive of the killing, and could not be sure of the motive yet although it was unlikely to be work of ivory hunters as female elephants do not have tusks.

The elephants was first spotted by a Golden Apex plantation worker at around 7am on August 4, lying on its side, but still alive. He told his plantation manager who came to inspect it the next day but found it already dead.

“He then went on to inform the forestry officer at Malua Forest Reserve, who alerted the Sabah Wildlife Department office at Lahad Datu about the incident,” said Tuuga.

A post mortem was conducted by Wildlife vets on the elephant at the site yesterday afternoon, two days after it was first found.  A herd of elephants seen nearby during the inspection, possibly

The elephant is estimated to be 10 years old and measured 8 feet high at shoulder height.

Meanwhile, Sabah, Tourism, Environment and Culture Minister Masidi Manjun said the killing was yet another result of human wildlife conflict and reflected a lack of awareness of conservation and importance of wildlife to the state’s tourism industry. 

“What makes me really disappointed is some Sabahans don’t realise the importance of conservation of the Borneo pygmy elephants.

“The Borneo pygmy elephants are iconic to the state. Sabahans should look at these beasts as one of the revenues contributing to the state tourism sector,” he said, adding that he hoped authorities could bring the person responsible to justice.

Elephants in Borneo have been under threat from plantation development which has resulted in land fragmentation that tears through their normal habitat. As a result, elephants are sometimes considered a threat or nuisance to plantation and estates who can suffer losses from damage to their crops.

The endangered species are also under threat from the global ivory trade which has wiped out populations of elephants elsewhere. Late last month, a 2.7kg elephant tusk was confiscated by Indonesian authorities at the Kalimantan border near Tawau.