Malaysia: Two more pygmy elephants found dead without tusks

muguntan vanar The Star 28 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: Another two Borneo pygmy elephants were found dead without their tusks in eastern Sabah.

One of the carcasses of the elephants was located in a plantation near the Dumpas area on Sept 10 while the other was found floating along the Kinabatangan river close to the Danau Girang Field Research Centre a few days ago.

Sources said it was difficult to pinpoint the area where the second bull was killed before the carcass was dumped into the river.

Sabah has been faced with the threat of wildlife poaching, especially of its endangered elephants which numbers around 2,000 in forests in eastern Sabah.

Six pygmy elephants, including the unique sabre tusk jumbo, have been reported killed over the last six months.

The Sabah Wildlife Department said they have no new leads or suspects in both the new cases.

Nevertheless, investigations are ongoing to identify the perpetrators.

The department's director, Augustine Tuuga, said the death of the elephant in Dumpas revealed no external injuries.

He said that they have taken blood samples to establish the cause of death while the second elephant might be a victim of poaching.

Wildlife officials were also probing the case of a green turtle found butchered on the shores of Pulau Bum Bum in Semporna which was highlighted in a Facebook posting on Wednesday.

At least nine dead turtles were seen in the photo uploaded on Facebook.

Tuuga said they were verifying the reports and carrying an investigation into the deaths.


Two pygmy elephants found dead
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 28 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The carcasses of two Bornean pygmy elephant – one without its tusks – were found in two separate locations in Sabah’s east coast in the last two weeks ago.

The first discovery involved a male calf with its tusks still intact. It was found dead in the plantation area on Sept 10 in Dumpas, Tawau.

While an adult male elephant was found floating in the Kinabatangan river last Monday.

Sabah Wildlife director Augustine Tuuga, when contacted, said the department believed the adult elephant was killed by poachers for its tusks before its carcass was dumped into the river.

“The tusks (on the adult elephant) were cut off but at the moment, we could not be sure where it was killed.

“As for the calf, its tusks are still intact and no injuries were found on its body. We have dispatched a team to inspect the carcasses, including collecting internal organ sampled from the calf for analysis to determine the cause of death,” he said.

Augustine also said the team will carry out inspection along the river to search for signs, which can lead to the exact site where the adult elephant was killed.

With the recent discoveries, he said the department recorded three cases of dead pygmy elephants in Sabah thus far this year.

In August, plantation workers spotted an adult Bornean pygmy elephant struggling for its life after sustaining multiple gunshot wounds in an oil palm plantation the Malua Forest Reserve in Kinabatangan.

The adult female elephant, however, succumbed to its injuries.



Tourists spots rotting dead elephant while on river cruise
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 28 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: One of two dead Bornean pygmy elephant found in the east coast of Sabah was first spotted by tourists on a river cruise near Sungai Koyah in Kinabatangan.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the sighting of the highly decomposed carcass was reported by a tourist guide who was with a group of four foreign tourists on a river cruise near Sungai Koyah on Sept 25.

The department yesterday dispatched a team to the area to carry out investigations.

"The carcass was brought to land, where a post mortem was conducted by the department's veterinary officer," he said in a statement.

Tuuga said the bull, estimated to be between 15 to 20 years old, was believed to have died or been killed three days earlier.

Initial inspection found that both tusks were missing with evidence of clean cut, he said.

"The left hindlimb was missing with sign of clean cut with sharp object. Part of the skin of the left side of the body was removed with a sharp object," added Tuuga.

No gunshot wounds were found on the body.

"Although no evidence gathered so far and in the absence of gun shot wound, it may be possible that the animal was caught in a snare trap that eventually caused it to die of exhaustion.

"Investigation is now focused on finding the possible area where the elephant died or been killed upstream the Kinabatangan river where the carcass was thrown into," said Tuuga.

On Sept 10, a male elephant calf with its tusks still intact was found dead within the plantation area in Dumpas, Tawau.

No injuries were found on its body and wilslife department team had collected internal organ samples from the calf for analysis to determine the cause of deat.

WWF wants more rangers to be recruited to protect Sabah's endangered wildlife from poachers
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 28 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: More trained rangers are needed to be stationed on the ground to help protect Sabah’s endangered wildlife from becoming the target of poachers.

This follows the latest discovery of two Bornean pygmy elephant carcases in the last two weeks ago, which raised concern among the public and wildlife conservationists over ongoing instances of wildlife poaching.

WWF-Malaysia, in a statement today, said the organisation along with HUTAN – a non-governmental group that conducts Orang Utan conservation programme – and the Danau Girang Field Centre were wholly committed to ensure the survival of Borneo elephants and other endangered wildlife.

“We will collaborate and assist Sabah Wildlife Department, Sabah Forestry Department, and plantations by sharing intelligence on suspicious activities so poaching entry points can be identified in order to develop more efficient enforcement strategies, such as joint patrols.

“To implement these strategies, the Sabah government needs to allocate more funds to hire and train more rangers on the ground as their constant and tactical presence is a deterrent to poachers,” it said.

WWF noted that there were at least six reported pachyderm deaths, including the recent discovery, in the state’s east coast in the last 12 months.

Last year, a male elephant carcass was found in Kinabatangan in October while two others were found dead with their tusks missing in a plantation bordering the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve.

One of the carcasses was a bull nicknamed ‘Sabre’ due to its unique inward-facing tusks.

In August this year, a female elephant died of multiple gunshot wounds in a plantation in Kinabatangan.

Today, Sabah Wildlife Department confirmed that a male calf was found dead on Sept 10 in a plantation in Dumpas, Tawau, while a tuskless bull carcass was found floating in Kinabatang river last Monday.

“There are three main reasons why Sabah’s elephants keep ending up dead - a huge demand for ivory, human-elephant conflict, and because no one has ever been caught and prosecuted for killing an elephant.

“Everyone in Sabah needs to see wildlife crime as a serious offence, on par with the murder of humans, because as it is, we don’t seem to care too much that poachers keep getting away scot-free every time they murder our beloved elephants.

“Their brazenness is a huge mockery of the species’ Totally Protected status, and the legally-protected status of our forest reserves and conservation areas,” stressed WWF.

The organisation also encouraged the public to continue to play their role in reporting wildlife crime to Sabah Wildlife Department.

“If the public chooses to remain silent, it sends a strong signal to the poachers that Sabahans are supporting the murder of their elephants,” it said.


Killing of wildlife goes on in Sabah
muguntan vanar and ruben sario The Star 29 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The slaughter of Sabah’s wildlife continued this month with little signs of slowing down as two critically-endangered Bornean pygmy elephants were killed for tusks and at least nine endangered green turtles were found butchered on the east coast.

The killings sent fresh shockwaves through the conservationist community, which appealed to the public to help put a stop to this.

A dead bull elephant was found floating down the Kinabatangan river close to the Danau Girang Research Centre (DGRC) on Monday, while another was found dead at a plantation in the Dumpas area of Kalabakan on Sept 10.

“This cannot go unpunished. We need to bring these criminals to court,” conservationist Dr Benoit Goossens said.

The slaying of the two elephants for their tusks brings the number of bulls killed for ivory in Sabah to five in less than 12 months, he said, adding that a female elephant was also killed recently.

Dr Goossens, the director of the Kinabatangan-based DGRC, said that with fewer than 2,000 elephants in Sabah, the population would be in jeopardy if the killing of mature bulls goes on.

“Elephants are already threatened by habitat loss and conflict with humans. If you add poaching, the species will not survive. We must get rid of the poachers and traders,” he said.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the tusks may be bound for Indonesia, where they are used as dowry in some communities.

On the turtles found on Pulau Bum Bum in Semporna district, he said reports indicated that all nine were stripped of their flesh and the lower shell, called the plastron.

He said the turtle killings may have been committed by members of the same group detained by the Malaysian Maritime Enforcement Agency (MMEA) early this year.

Augustine said the MMEA detained a boat from southern Philippines, with four men on board, bound for Semporna loaded with turtle flesh and plastron. The department prosecuted the four men and they were jailed two years and fined RM100,000 each.

Augustine said the wildlife authorities needed the help of villagers and other agencies in protecting endangered animals.

“The killings have to stop but we cannot do it alone,” he said.


Sabah Wildlife Dept: Elephant carcass found at Kinabatangan river a victim of poaching
ruben sario The Star 29 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The bull elephant that was found floating in Kinabatangan river on Sept 25 could have been caught in a snare trap.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the pachyderm was estimated to be between 15 and 20 years old. It was killed about three days earlier.

Augustine said the carcass was spotted by a guide with a group of four tourists on a river cruise.

He said a post mortem on the elephant carcass showed that apart from its tusks, the left hind limb and part of the skin on the left side had been sliced off.

The post mortem did not find any evidence of gunshot on the body indicating that the elephant was caught in a snare trap that caused it to die of exhaustion, he said.

"Our investigation is now focused on finding the possible area where the elephant died or was killed upstream of the Kinabatangan river where the carcass was thrown into," Augustine added.

The elephant was the second pachyderm found dead in Sabah in less than two weeks.

Another bull elephant was found dead at a plantation area in the southeastern Kalabakan area on Sept 10 with its tusks removed as well.

While there is a high demand for the tusks in China, Augustine said these were highly sought in Indonesia where they were used as wedding dowries particularly among the Timor community.

Trap believed to have killed jumbo found in river
The Star 30 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: A trap is believed to have killed the bull elephant which was found floating in Sungai Kinabatangan on Sept 25.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the pachyderm, estimated to be between 15 and 20 years old, was believed to be killed about three days earlier.

He said the carcass was spotted by a guide with a group of four tourists on a river cruise.

Augustine said a post-mortem on the carcass showed that apart from its tusks, the left hind limb and part of the skin on the left side had been sliced off.

The post-mortem did not find any evidence of gunshot on the body indicating that the elephant was caught in a snare trap that eventually caused it to die of exhaustion, he said.

“Our investigation is now focused on finding the possible area where the elephant died or had been killed,” Augustine added.

The elephant was the second pachyderm killed in Sabah in less than two weeks.

Another bull elephant was found dead at a plantation area in the southeastern Kalabakan area on Sept 10 with its tusks removed as well.

While there is a high demand for the tusks in China, Augustine said they were also highly sought in Indonesia where they are used as wedding dowries particularly among the Timor community.

Bornean pygmy elephant found in Sabah river had been mutilated by poachers
AVILA GERALDINE New Straits Times 29 Sep 17;

KOTA KINABALU: The carcass of a Bornean pygmy elephant found floating in the Kinabatangan river early this week had been mutilated by poachers.

The elephant hunters had not only removed the endangered mammal’s tusks, but had also cut off its left leg at the thigh.

“Based on the condition (of the carcass), the (injuries were inflicted) by humans. There was no sign of it being torn off due to decay or being eaten by crocodiles.

“Since there was no gunshot wound, we can only assume that the bull was caught in a snare trap and its leg was cut off by poachers,” Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said when contacted.

He also revealed that poachers sliced off skin on the left side of the elephant’s body.

“We are not sure why the leg and the skin were removed. Probably for consumption, but we are not quite sure of this. The department will investigate this further, including determining the exact point where it was killed,” Augustine said.

The carcass of the male elephant, aged between 15 and 20, was spotted by a group of tourists on a river cruise near Sungai Koyah in Kinabatangan, on Monday.

It is believed that the elephant died three days prior to its discovery.

On the separate discovery of a male calf found dead within a plantation in Dumpas, Tawau on Sept 10, Augustine said that the elephant was about 3-years-old and did not die due to poaching activity.

“It probably died due to an infection or accidental food poisoning. The calf could have eaten grass or plants (covered) with pesticides in the plantation, but I have yet to receive a full report of the analysis,” he said.

Following the death report, a wildlife team was sent to the field the following day and collected samples of the calf’s internal organs for analysis.

Detailed inspection of the calf showed that there was parasitic infestation, and its organs, including its liver, spleen and kidney were severely decomposed.

Augustine said the calf is believed to have died two days before it was discovered by plantation workers.

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