Female pygmy elephant shot dead in Tongod

Avila Geraldine

KOTA KINABALU: A female Borneo pygmy elephant was shot dead at a plantation in Tongod, recently.

The carcass of the elephant, aged between 12 and 15, was discovered at Ladang Bintang Emas Property Sdn Bhd on Aug 25.

Sabah Wildlife Department public relations officer Siti Nur’ain Ampuan Acheh said today that a team of rangers and veterinary officer were despatched to the site after they were alerted by the Tongod district forestry officer.

“The team investigated and conducted a post-mortem on the elephant on Aug 27,” she said.

“It was estimated that it died about a week earlier.”

Siti said there was a round-shaped wound in the middle of the elephant’s temple area, which had penetrated into its skull.

“The right temporal part of the skull was found to have severe bleeding and debris from the impact, most probably from a gunshot. No bullets were found on the body.

“Death of the elephant is highly probably due to neurological damage caused to the brain.”

A female Borneo pygmy elephant was shot dead at a plantation in Tongod, recently. Pic by NSTP/ courtesy of Sabah Wildlife Department

Prior to the latest death, four Borneo Pygmy elephants were found dead in Sabah’s east coast.

It was reported that a cow and its calf were shot by poachers. Another elephant died after a tree fell on it, while the fourth was found dead with unknown causes.

A total of 25 elephant deaths have been reported this year. State wildlife director Augustine Tuuga saying all toxicology tests were done locally.

“The results are usually not conclusive (but there is) negative result to most known poisons and also bacteria or viruses,” he said.

On the department’s efforts to catch culprits responsible for killing the elephants, including using poison and snare traps, Tuuga said it would not be easy.

“It’s difficult to detect them and no witnesses have come forward to give information even when we have offer a RM120,000 reward,” he said, stressing that the reward was still on offer.

The RM120,000 reward was first offered five years ago to facilitate the department’s investigations into the deaths of 14 elephants in the Gunung Rara forest reserve.

Tuuga said the department had also offered RM20,000 for information on the killing of a sabre elephant, adding that nobody had come forward. © New Straits Times Press (M) Bhd