Malaysia: Bornean pygmy elephant shot to death in forest reserve; netizens distressed by video

AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 7 Aug 17;

KINABATANGAN: As a Bornean pygmy elephant struggled for its life after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds in an oil palm plantation near the Malua Forest Reserve here, concerned estate workers could only watch helplessly.

The workers had spotted the adult female elephant lying on the ground at about 7am on Aug 4, clinging on to life.

It died of its wounds soon after.

What made the incident all the more upsetting was that the pygmy elephant had a calf, which could be heard wailing for its mother in the distance, as it hid from the estate workers.

The calf eventually disappeared.

The incident was captured by a smartphone’s camera, and a one-minute-and-seven-second video clip was uploaded to the Danau Girang Field Centre’s Facebook page today.

In the footage, workers are heard expressing their sadness and concern over the majestic mammal’s condition, and voice their disgust over the crime perpetrated upon it.

“Teruk betul ini orang ni… Dia tembak ini, mungkin (What a horrible person (the culprit is)… He probably shot (the elephant)),” say the workers.

Some of the onlookers also mention the baby elephant they spot off-camera, and the faint cries of a juvenile could be heard in the distance.

A man is heard asking: “Mana anaknya? (Where is the calf?)”; and a woman responds: “Jalan sudah dia, ndak mau dikacau mungkin. Kesian (It went away, probably it doesn’t want to be disturbed (by humans). What a pity.)”

Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) director Augustine Tuuga told the New Straits Times that a team of investigating officers and veterinarians was sent to the site immediately after being alerted to the incident.

“A forestry officer stationed at the Malua forest reserve informed the department at 9am yesterday. He said the elephant was alive when the workers found it at 7am, but it eventually died.

“When the team arrived, there was only one elephant and they conducted a post-mortem. It was unknown when the elephant was shot. At the moment, I am still waiting for the report,” Augustine said.

Meanwhile, Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said he has instructed the SWD to conduct a thorough investigation to identify the culprit and bring them to court.

“An iconic elephant has been killed for a reason we do not know. It is sad because it is as though our people have yet to understand our need to conserve the pygmy elephant in Sabah.

“We need to look at the elephant as a resource that helps Sabah people move forward in tourism,” he said.

Masidi also advised those who come across elephants to contact the SWD directly, especially if they need assistance drive them away from their land.


Pygmy elephant shot dead in Sabah
MUGUNTAN VANAR The Star 8 Aug 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Another Borneo pygmy elephant has been killed on the east coast of Sabah. The adult female was found with multiple gunshot wounds by workers at a plantation close to the Malua Forest Reserve in Kinabatangan.

A video of the dead elephant was posted on the Facebook page of Danau Girang Field Centre (DGFC), a research and training facility, yesterday.

A post-mortem has been conducted, confirming that the animal was killed by pellets from a shotgun.

Sabah Forestry Department chief conservator of forests Datuk Sam Mannan said a team of rangers has been sent to investigate if the elephant was shot by poachers inside the forest reserve.

The killing shocked officials at DGFC, who described it as a blow against the conservation of critically endangered jumbos.

DGFC director Dr Benoit Goossens said it did not make sense because it is a female, so no tusks to harvest, and no meat was taken.

“It is sad and senseless,” he said.

He said the dead elephant was not part of the herd monitored by researchers at DGFC.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun also described it as a sad incident. He ordered wildlife rangers to track down the culprits.

Late last year, three pygmy elephants, including a rare sabre tusk jumbo, were killed by poachers in the Segama area.

Apart from poaching threats, human-elephant conflicts on the east coast have seen land owners killing the animals when trying to stop them from destroying their crops.

Sabah Wildlife director Augustine Tuuga said the 2.2m tall elephant, which was about 10 years old, was shot in the head, stomach and waist.

“Some of the buckshot and shotgun pellets penetrated the internal organs of the elephant. It is believed that the elephant was shot a week earlier,” he said in a statement yesterday.

He said the elephant was eventually found dead at Golden Apex Plantation in Kinaba­tangan, about 100m from the Malua Forest Reserve boundary.

It was still alive when it was first found by a plantation worker at around 7am on Friday.

Poachers unlikely to be behind killing of elephant: Sabah Wildlife Dept
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 8 Aug 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) has shifted its investigation to crop farm workers and owners to establish if they are behind the recent killing of a female Bornean elephant in Kinabatangan plantation.

Its director Augustine Tuuga said the shooting could not have been done by poachers based on the pattern.

“The elephant was not killed for its tusk because it was a female. It is more on protecting crops in the plantation area.

“For that reason, we believe a farm owner or a worker might be the person responsible in shooting the mammal that could have trespassed into the farm,” he told reporters when met at the state legislative building, here.

Tuuga said the department’s investigation would look into the angle, adding a team of investigating officers will be inspecting the plantation area to find damaged crops.

He also noted a report was has been lodged at the Kinabatangan police headquarters and that it is a normal procedure for the department to make a police report for any wildlife case.

Meanwhile, Kinabatangan police chief Superintendent A. Sahak Rahmat confirmed to have received the report but stressed the investigation is conducted by SWD.

Yesterday, Tuuga said veterinarians found gunshot wounds on the elephant’s head, stomach and waist, with some of the buck shot and BB pellets had penetrated into the internal organs.

Based on examination, the mammal estimated to be 10 years old was believed shot a week earlier before it was discovered by a plantation worker on Aug 4 at the Golden Apex Plantation, about 100 metres away from the Malua Forest Reserve.


Pygmy elephant death: It could have been revenge
STEPHANIE LEE The Star 9 Aug 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Revenge is the likely motive behind the killing of a 10-year-old Borneo pygmy elephant at a plantation close to the Malua Forest Reserve in Sabah's east coast district of Kinabatangan.

Investigators believe that the endangered animal it might have been a victim of revenge rather than a victim of poachers.

Rangers from the Sabah Wildlife Department and the national Wildlife Department are on the ground interviewing workers at plantations along the Malua and Segama Forest reserves, where the elephant was found dying on Aug 4.

Sabah Forestry Department chief conservator of forests Datuk Sam Mannan said the elephant that was shot in its head, stomach and torso could not have been valuable to poachers because it was a female and did not have tusks.

"So we are not sure why someone would want to kill a female elephant if not for revenge," he said.

He said investigators believe the elephant may have been killed because it had probably destroyed crops or young oil palm trees.

Human-elephant conflicts on the east coast have seen landowners killing these elephants in trying to stop them from destroying their crops.

"However, we are still not sure about the motive or who killed it," Mannan said when contacted by phone on Wednesday.

He said forest rangers have identified landowners in the area and were in the process of interviewing them.

"We are also looking for witnesses, and we hope someone can tell us who did this and why," he added.

The jumbo was first discovered still alive by plantation workers at 7am on Aug 4, but had died by the time wildlife officers arrived on Sunday.

Late last year, three pygmy elephants, including a rare sabre tusk jumbo, were killed by poachers in the Segama area. The suspects remain unidentified.


Authorities: Jumbo may be victim of revenge
STEPHANIE LEE The Star 10 Aug 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Human-elephant conflict might have been the reason a 10-year-old pygmy elephant was killed at a plantation close to the Malua Forest Reserve in Sabah’s east coast district of Kinabatangan.

Authorities believe the elephant could have been a victim of revenge rather than poachers because it was destroying crops or young oil palm trees in the area.

Investigators are trying to narrow in on the killer or killers of the elephant, which is an endangered species. Both Sabah Wildlife Depart­ment and Wildlife Department rangers were on the ground interviewing workers at plantations along the Malua forest reserve and Segama Forest reserve area where the elephant was found dying on Friday.

Sabah Forestry Department Datuk Sam Mannan said the elephant that was shot on its head and torso was not valuable to poachers as it was a female and did not have tusks.

“So we are not sure why someone would want to kill a female elephant if not for revenge,” he said.

He said the elephant might have been killed because it probably destroyed crops or young oil palm trees.

“However, we are still not sure about the motive or who killed it,” Mannan said when contacted by phone.

He said they were trying to ascertain where the elephant was found exactly, whether closer to the Malua or Ulu Segama Forest Reserve and then speak to the landowner about the matter.

He said forest rangers have identified the landowners at the area and were in the process of interviewing them while hoping that witnesses could come forward.

“We hope someone can tell us who did this and why,” he added.

The jumbo was first discovered still alive by plantation workers at 7am on Friday but when wildlife officers arrived on Sunday, it was already dead.

Late last year, three pygmy elephants, including a rare sabre tusk jumbo, were killed by poachers in the Segama area. The culprits remain unidentified.

Apart from poaching threats, human-elephant conflicts on the east coast have seen landowners killing the animals when trying to stop them from destroying their crops.



Shot pygmy elephant may be chased by planters: Wildlife rescue unit
KRISTY INUS New Straits Times 9 Aug 17;

KOTA KINABALU: There is a possibility that the female elephant shot recently at a plantation in Kinabatangan was chased away by planters as the herd was feasting on their crops, Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) said today.

Its Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) acting manager Dr Diana Ramirez said due to increasing human-elephant conflict, the species has developed a taste for young oil palm where large plots of plantations are found in the State’s east coast.

While their unit was not involved in the post-mortem, she said based on known behavioral pattern, an elephant could walk a long way even after being wounded by gunshots.

“We can’t say how far this elephant has walked (after being shot) but these are strong animals.

“Some after being shot would only move a few steps before collapsing while others have been known to have walked over 100 metres and more,” she said when asked on the possibility of the elephant being shot at a plantation or nearby forest reserve.

“But a herd of elephants is capable of destroying hundreds of hectares of crops overnight, and herd-size varies from maybe five to sometimes 30 elephants. So, you can imagine the impact,” Dr Diana told New Straits Times.

She was commenting on the killing of a Bornean pygmy elephant, estimated to be around 10 years old that was discovered by a plantation worker on Aug 4 at Golden Apex plantation, about 100 metres away from the Malua Forest Reserve.

The mammal which was still breathing when found, suffered gunshot wounds to its head, stomach and waist.

Dr Diana believed that based on the fresh wounds, the elephant was shot between 24 to 48 hours before being discovered by the worker.

Yesterday, SWD director Augustine Tuuga said they have shifted investigations to crop farm workers and owners to establish if they were behind the killing.


Sabah says it will find pygmy elephant killers ‘soon’
STEPHANIE LEE The Star 12 Aug 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah officials are confident that they will soon find those behind the killing of a 10-year-old pygmy elephant at a plantation close to the Malua Forest Reserve in Kinabatangan district.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment assistant minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said every bullet was traceable and they hope to be able to find the person behind the killing soon.

“We do not know for sure who killed the animal but hope to find the source of the bullets found from the elephant’s body and get the culprit,” he said.

Pang said Sabah was against such killings and would do its best to solve the case.

"For now, let us leave the investigations to those involved and get all necessary and accurate information which could help solve this killing," he added.

The female pygmy elephant was first discovered still alive by plantation workers at 7am on Aug 4, but it had died by the time wildlife officials arrived two days later.

State authorities had previously believed the elephant could have been a victim of revenge because it was destroying crops or young oil palm trees in the area.

But based on their investigations, they now believe poachers could have been the culprits, according to Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga.

“We have spoken to many plantation workers and they claim poachers were the ones to have shot it to death However, the workers were not able to give us any suspects,” he said during the Elephant Film Festival here on Saturday.

Late last year, three pygmy elephants including a rare sabre tusk jumbo were killed by poachers in the Segama area. The suspects remain unidentified.

Apart from poaching threats, human-elephant conflicts on the east coast have seen landowners killing the animals when trying to stop them from destroying their crops.


Wildlife department baffled why elephants without tusks are killed
OLIVIA MIWIL New Straits Times 12 Aug 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Investigation into the recent killing of a Borneo pygmy elephant in Kinabatangan is still ongoing.
Sabah Wildlife department director Augustine Tuuga said their investigation team was still at the scene gathering information.

The adult female died due to multiple gunshot wounds.

“Plantation workers said that they were not able to see the faces of poachers as the incident happened at night.

“They also claimed the culprits were from outside the plantation,” he said during a press conference after the launching of an inaugural Sabah Elephant Film Festival 2017.

Earlier in his presentation at the festival, Augustine said there had been recent poaching for elephants’ tusks.

The department had said they encountered similar cases in the past involving Indonesians who gave tusks for dowry.

“However, we are still unsure of the motive of killing elephants without tusks,” he said.

Meanwhile, state Assistant Tourism, Culture and Environment minister Datuk Pang Yuk Ming said police would also help with the investigation.

“Every bullet is traceable. Let’s hope the people behind this will be caught.”

Last year, three elephants including a rare sabre tusk jumbo were mutilated by poachers in the Segama area.

Other causes of elephants’ death include the species being poisoned, illness and fights among themselves.


Probe into jumbo’s killing hits dead end
The Star 22 Aug 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Investigations into the killing of a female Borneo pygmy elephant in Kinabatangan has hit a dead end as wildlife rangers are unable to get concrete leads to narrow down the suspects.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said they have no new leads or suspects in this case.

The source of bullets used in the killing was also untraceable, he added.

“We were banking on having these bullets traced to find out where they came from,” said Tuuga.

The 10-year-old pygmy elephant was found killed at a plantation close to the Malua Forest Reserve in Sabah’s east coast Kinabatangan on Aug 4.

The jumbo was first discovered still alive by plantation workers at 7am but when wildlife officers arrived on Aug 6, it was already dead.

Late 2016, three pygmy elephants, including a rare sabre tusk jumbo, were killed in the Segama area. The poachers were never found.

Apart from poaching threats, human-elephant conflicts on the east coast have seen landowners killing the animals when trying to stop them from destroying their crops.

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