Human care: Wildlife rescuers feeding Jimbo and Tun Tan at the Sepilok wildlife medical care centre.
KOTA KINABALU: Concern is growing over whether the mothers of two rescued female Borneo Pygmy elephant calves found wandering in two plantations on Feb 12 may have been poisoned.
Wildlife rangers have been combing areas in Kinabatangan to locate the elephant cows and their herd but have yet to locate them.
There are fears that their mothers might have been poisoned as part of efforts to stop the herd from marauding in farms or plantations.
The latest development follows last year’s gruesome poisoning deaths of 14 elephants at the Gunung Rara forest with only a calf surviving.
Another possibility is that the calves were separated from their herd when people or plantation workers tried to shoo them away.
Elephant herds are, however, highly protective of calves and are not likely to be separated from their young unless the mother dies or is separated by force.
“We really do not know what happened to the mothers of the calves,” Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Laurentius Ambu said.
He said the rescued calves were in healthy condition and were gaining weight at the Sepilok wildlife medical care centre in Sandakan.
He said human-elephant conflicts in Sabah had risen dramatically in the last few years with an upward trend of the number of elephants being killed and poisoned.
“We would like to advise farmers and plantation owners not to take the law into their hands by injuring or killing the elephants.
“We will prosecute anybody because the Bornean elephant is now a totally protected species. We urge the people to notify us if there is any elephant intrusion in their farms or estates,” Ambu said.
The calves were found in separate locations in Kinabatangan. The first – a two-week-old which has been named Jimbo – was found at a plantation in Sg Lokan after wildlife rangers received a report from the plantation manager.
The second, a year-old calf named Tun Tan, was found in a plantation near Sukau and followed a tractor driven by a plantation worker back to the kongsi area where it was picked up by rangers.