LENGGONG: A few more steps and Mat Chepor, the orphaned 18-month-old elephant, would have survived.
He was 10m away from the trailer at the Felcra Kampung Chepor oil palm estate near here when he collapsed at 2.45pm on Friday.
Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) rangers from Perak and Pahang could only keep a vigil over the baby elephant as it grew weaker overnight. It died 18 hours later.
It was a complete turnaround from Monday when rangers caught the healthy calf at the Piah Forest Reserve. They were transferring him to Pahang to join a herd of 11 elephants.
Mat Chepor was found wandering alone after its mother died from gunshot wounds.
Taiping Zoo director Dr Kevin Lazarus said a post-mortem revealed that Mat Chepor's intestines showed signs of erosion and internal damage, likely due to starvation.
He ruled out drug overdose as the cause of death but added that tissue and blood samples had been sent for laboratory testing.
He said the calf, which had been given 20mg of the sedative Ilium Xylazil-100 to calm it down on Friday morning, could not have died from drug overdose as the dosage was “very safe”.
He also said it could not have died from the injections of Reverzine, a drug meant to revive it when it arrived at the estate and was too groggy to move.
“When the animal doesn’t get up, it is all right to give it more of the antidote (Reverzine). This is normal,” said Dr Lazarus, who treated the calf on Friday night.
He said Mat Chepor could have succumbed to exhaustion, dehydration and a chronic lack of nutrition.
“Although the baby elephant is old enough to eat on its own, he is still dependent on his mother for her milk,” he said.