Plea to save at risk species

Wildlife rangers are urging plantation owners and workers not to harm any of the elephants that pass through their land. — filepic

KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife rangers will double efforts to get plantation owners in Sabah to work with them to prevent further killings or injuring of the state’s critically endangered pygmy elephants.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the issue of elephants being harmed and killed was getting serious and they had no clue who the culprits were.

“So our only approach that seems feasible at the moment is to get all plantation owners to work with us in protecting these gentle giants,” he said when contacted on Sunday.

He said he was not implying that the plantation owners or workers are the ones harming elephants, but it was clear that these animals were a threat to plantations, especially new ones.

“We know that many plantations suffer losses because of elephant encroachment, some even up to millions of ringgit per year,” Tuuga said.

“But we really need their help to protect this species and to alert wildlife rangers immediately if they are not able to chase the animals away on their own,” he added.

He also urged plantation owners and workers not to harm any of the animals that pass through their land or near their homes and try their best to get them away safely.

Tuuga said they would try their best to get to the areas affected as soon as possible and hoped that all plantation owners could give their cooperation.

He, however, did not rule out poaching as being one of the main contributors to elephant killings.

He also appealed to landowners to not allow outsiders, especially hunters and poachers, into their land.

“We need their cooperation to save this species,” he added.

Tuuga said though many elephants and other endangered species were being kept at the Tabin Wildlife Reserve, it was their nature to wander off and sometimes return to places they once lived.

These places, he said, had been developed into either plantations or housing areas.

On Dec 6, a bull elephant was found barely alive by estate workers at Ladang Duta Telupid.

It died from dehydration that was caused by gunshot wounds in its mouth.

Bullets were also found in its leg and body after a post-mortem was conducted.

The elephant was believed to have been shot more than a week before it was rescued from the plantation located some 210km from here.

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