KOTA KINABALU: Human-elephant conflict might have been the reason a 10-year-old pygmy elephant was killed at a plantation close to the Malua Forest Reserve in Sabah’s east coast district of Kinabatangan.
Authorities believe the elephant could have been a victim of revenge rather than poachers because it was destroying crops or young oil palm trees in the area.
Investigators are trying to narrow in on the killer or killers of the elephant, which is an endangered species. Both Sabah Wildlife Department and Wildlife Department rangers were on the ground interviewing workers at plantations along the Malua forest reserve and Segama Forest reserve area where the elephant was found dying on Friday.
Sabah Forestry Department Datuk Sam Mannan said the elephant that was shot on its head and torso was not valuable to poachers as it was a female and did not have tusks.
“So we are not sure why someone would want to kill a female elephant if not for revenge,” he said.
He said the elephant might have been killed because it probably destroyed crops or young oil palm trees.
“However, we are still not sure about the motive or who killed it,” Mannan said when contacted by phone.
He said they were trying to ascertain where the elephant was found exactly, whether closer to the Malua or Ulu Segama Forest Reserve and then speak to the landowner about the matter.
He said forest rangers have identified the landowners at the area and were in the process of interviewing them while hoping that witnesses could come forward.
“We hope someone can tell us who did this and why,” he added.
The jumbo was first discovered still alive by plantation workers at 7am on Friday but when wildlife officers arrived on Sunday, it was already dead.
Late last year, three pygmy elephants, including a rare sabre tusk jumbo, were killed by poachers in the Segama area. The culprits remain unidentified.
Apart from poaching threats, human-elephant conflicts on the east coast have seen landowners killing the animals when trying to stop them from destroying their crops.