KOTA KINABALU: An operation to catch two bull pygmy elephants, while preventing another 17 from damaging the property and crops of villagers in Sabah’s central Telupid district, is proving to be a mammoth task.
Rangers from the state’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) have been chased by the animals, which have resisted efforts to push them back into the jungle.
“It is a big group of elephants – around 20 of them are wandering into small farms and plantations.
“The elephants sometimes break up into smaller groups of four to five, making it difficult for the team to control them or push them back into the forest,” WRU acting manager Diana Raminez said yesterday.
The team has been tracking the pachyderms for nearly a month in the district, where the herd has destroyed property and crops in at least five villages.
“An aggressive cow elephant, which even chased a ranger, was captured around midnight on Feb 21 and the team is now targeting two bull elephants,” said Raminez.
The cow elephant was translocated to the Imbak forest reserve.
The team of 10 rangers has been working round the clock to prevent the elephants from causing more damage.
Over the past month, villagers have been terrorised by several aggressive elephants.
The herd includes four calves.
The translocation cost of about RM30,000 per elephant is being funded by the Malaysian Palm Oil Council.
Among the villages affected are Kg Gambaron 1, Kg Gambaron 2, Kg Batu 4, Kg Bintang-Mas, Kg Bauto, Kg Telupid, Kg Gaab, Kg Lubang Batu and Kg Maliau.