|Baby pygmy elephant mourns over dead mother|
KOTA KINABALU: The discovery of the deaths of 10 Borneo pygmy elephants in Gunung Rara Forest Reserve was the saddest day for Sabah’s conservation efforts.
“This is a very sad day for conservation and Sabah. The death of these majestic and severely endangered Bornean elephants is a great loss to the state,” Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said.
“Though it might be too early to pinpoint a conclusive cause of death, poisoning seems to be the likely cause,” he said.
Masidi said he had directed Sabah Wildlife Department to set up a joint task force with relevant stakeholders such as the Forestry Department, Yayasan Sabah, WWF and police to further investigate these deaths and to get to the bottom of it.
“If indeed these poor elephants were maliciously poisoned I will make sure that the culprits are brought to justice and pay for their crime ” Masidi added.
Elephants are known to roam into plantations and villages where they cause severe losses to the owners.
Sabah Wildlife Department is usually called in to help in steering the elephants away from such places and in some cases they are moved to other forest reserves.
However, some people affected have resorted to poisoning the elephants to stop their menace and among the methods used are pesticides including rat poisons over the years.
State Wildlife director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said that they were scouring the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve area as well as places adjacent to it to see if any pesticides were used to kill the elephants.