Malaysia: Six pygmy elephants found dead in Sabah

The Star 21 May 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Mystery surrounds the heartwrenching deaths of six endangered Bornean pygmy elephants in the east coast of Sabah.

The carcasses of the elephants, aged between one and 37, were discovered on separate occasions between April 6 and May 20 this year.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga confirmed the deaths when contacted, but only revealed the details of the elephants found dead most recently.

Tuuga said post-mortem results showed the elephants did not die from gunshots.

“There were no bullet wounds found on the bodies. We have taken organ samples for toxicology and bacteriology tests,” he said.

Tuuga added the cause of death can only be fully determined once the test results are known.

Some conservationists told The Star that they suspected poisoned waterholes as one of the possible causes of death.

The dead elephants – three in the conservation area of Sukau, two in Telupid and one in Lahad Datu – were found by wildlife rangers.

The carcass of a one-year-old male elephant was found near Sungai Resang, Sukau, on April 6.

The next day, an adult female elephant was found dead in Lahad Datu.

A few weeks later on April 26, the carcass of a 37-year-old female elephant was found in Ladang Mayvin 2. A juvenile male elephant was found dead in Sukau on May 10.


No gunshot wounds found on dead elephant

Kristy Inus New Straits Times 21 May 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The cause of death of an elephant found floating in the Kinabatangan River last weekened is not yet known.

However, following an autopsy that was done yesterday, Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said no gunshot wounds were found on the elephant, believed to be about three years old.

"A post-mortem was completed at 2pm (yesterday). But no wounds were found on its body and the elephant did not die from gunshot, infact no bullets were found in the elephant's body.

"We are still unable to ascertain the cause of death for now and we have taken samples of its internal organs for further analysis," he said when contacted.

When asked if the elephant could have been poisoned, Augustine said they would have to wait for results from the analysis.

Last week, a photo of the dead elephant, believed to have been found at a river near the Danau Girang Research Centre in Kinabatangan, along with two voicenotes went viral on WhatsApp.

Sabah Wildlife Department then confirmed they received a report on the discovery and sent in a team which included a veterinarian to the scene.



Shafie orders immediate action on elephant deaths
The Star 22 May 18;

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal has ordered state authorities to examine in detail the recent deaths of six endangered Borneo pygmy elephants.

His directive called for State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew to be briefed of the situation and to make efforts for immediate implementation of preventive and protective plans.

The Sabah Wildlife Department was told to be thorough in the probe into the elephants’ death and work closely with the Sabah Forestry Department in protecting wildlife and forests.

Shafie said the two agencies should also work with non-governmental organisations in establishing forest corridors without concern for the business interests of individuals.

“If real measures had been taken to check on human-elephant conflict as well as other issues including poaching, the deaths of these endangered gentle giants of Sabah, with one as young as a year old, would not have occurred.

“Perhaps the previous government did not have the political will to push through more drastic action which would have affected big logging companies and plantations,” the Chief Minister said in a statement yesterday.

Shafie said he did not want “lip service” but the immediate implementation of short-term and long-term conservation plans.

“The Warisan government will facilitate such efforts and not bow down to pressure from any group,” he added.

The carcasses of the six endangered Bornean pygmy elephants in the east coast of Sabah aged between one and 37 years were discovered on separate occasions since April 6, with the last one found on Sunday.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the department had taken organ samples for toxicology and bacteriology tests and the cause of the deaths could only be fully determined once the results were known.

Post-mortem results showed the elephants were not gunned down.


Shafie calls for probe into deaths of 6 pygmy elephants
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal says the state government is committed to the preservation and conservation of wildlife and natural resources.
Avila Geraldine New Straits Times 21 May 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The Sabah government is urging the state Wildlife Department to conduct a thorough investigation on the six Borneo pygmy elephants found dead in oil palm plantations in the state’s east coast areas.

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal said the Parti Warisan Sabah (Warisan) state government was committed to the preservation and conservation of wildlife and natural resources.

He said the department must prevent unnecessary elephant deaths.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga was reported today as saying that six elephant carcasses had been found at different locations. He said the pachyderms were between one and 37 years old.

Shafie said: “I am aware that much has been said and, perhaps, done by the past government. “However, elephant deaths, whether due to poaching or other causes continue unabated.

“Perhaps, the previous government did not have the political will to push through more drastic measures that would affect big logging companies and plantations?

“I don’t know why it still occurs after so many claims were made by the previous government about solutions.

“I don’t want lip service. I want to see short- and long-term conservation plans drawn up to be implemented on a fast track basis. The Warisan government will facilitate such efforts and not bow down to pressure from any groups.”

The chief minister directed state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew to arrange for a briefing on the situation and see how best to fast-track efforts to protect Sabah’s wildlife.

Shafie also called on the state Wildlife Department and Forestry Department to cooperate and team-up with non-governmental organisations to tackle the issue without fear that they would be in conflict with the business interests of certain individuals.

“I believe that the network is there, but there has been little will in the past to push measures through,” he added.

“The deaths of these endangered giants of Sabah, one as young as a year old, would not have occurred if serious effort had been made to check human-elephant conflicts and other problems, including poaching.”

On May 19, the New Straits Times (NST) reported that the Wildlife Department had deployed a team, including a veterinarian, to investigate after receiving a report that the carcass of a juvenile female elephant had been found floating in Sungai Kinabatangan.

On the following day, Tuuga told NST that no gunshot wounds were found on the mammal, which was about three years old.

He said the department had yet to determine the cause of death. But, he said, a post-mortem had been carried out and samples of the animal’s vital internal organs had been collected for toxicology and bacteriology analyses.


WWF wants action over elephant deaths
fatimah zainal The Star 24 May 18;

KOTA KINABALU: The recent unexplained deaths of six Borneo pygmy elephants in Sabah is a wake-up call for all parties to iron out the human-elephant conflict in Sabah, says the World Wildlife Fund.

WWF-Malaysia is calling for industries and landowners to be held accountable for any death of elephants on their land.

It said the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry’s move to amend the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 to include a strict liability provision was a step in the right direction.

The amendment meant that landowners would be held accountable should the death of an elephant occur on their land.

However, WWF-Malaysia said more analysis was needed to decide on the viability of the amendment in the long run.

The statement is in response to that made by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who on Monday directed probes on the tragedy and called for more action, and not just “lip service”.

WWF-Malaysia is also calling for the existing cooperation between government enforcement agencies and the various non-governmental organisations to be fortified in order to mitigate the human-elephant conflict in Sabah.

“WWF-Malaysia offers its support to the state government in its conservation efforts of not only the Borneo elephants but also wildlife as a whole.

“We will continue to work with government agencies and other NGOs to prevent further loss of elephants,” said the body.

The carcasses of the six endangered Bornean pygmy elephants in the east coast of Sabah had been discovered on separate occasions since April 6, with the last one found on Sunday.

The elephants were between one and 37 years old.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the department had taken organ samples for toxicology and bacteriology tests and the cause of the deaths could only be fully determined once the results were known.

Post-mortem results showed the elephants were not gunned down.

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