KOTA KINABALU: An endangered Borneo pgymy elephant has died from dehydration triggered by gunshot wounds.
Veterinarians and wildlife rangers could only watch helplessly as the gentle jumbo died due to injuries on his tongue and mouth.
"It could not eat or drink as we tried to provide treatment at the Borneo Wildlife Sanctuary," said Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga in a statement late Friday (Dec 8).
He said the seven-year-old bull elephant died on Dec 6, more than a week after it was rescued from the Desa Plantation near Telupid, some 210km from here.
Tuuga said they had received reports from villagers and estate workers about an injured elephant that was running amok.
He said villagers said the elephant was charging at people that were in its path.
"It was then captured on Nov 24 for relocation," he said.
Tuuga said the elephant was then taken to the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary for treatment.
While undergoing medical examination and treatment, its tongue was found to have serious wounds, believed to have been caused by gunshots.
"We are not sure whether this elephant was shot by poachers or villagers," Tuuga said.
A post-mortem found a bullet lodged in the elephant's front left leg, as well as other signs of gunshots on the body.
"However, the wounds on the body were only external," Tuuga said.
He urged villagers and estate owners as well as workers to inform wildlife rangers if they come across elephants on their land instead of handling the matter on their own.