KOTA KINABALU: Mystery surrounds the heartwrenching deaths of six endangered Bornean pygmy elephants in the east coast of Sabah.
The carcasses of the elephants, aged between one and 37, were discovered on separate occasions between April 6 and May 20 this year.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga confirmed the deaths when contacted, but only revealed the details of the elephants found dead most recently.
Tuuga said post-mortem results showed the elephants did not die from gunshots.
“There were no bullet wounds found on the bodies. We have taken organ samples for toxicology and bacteriology tests,” he said.
Tuuga added the cause of death can only be fully determined once the test results are known.
Some conservationists told The Star that they suspected poisoned waterholes as one of the possible causes of death.
The dead elephants – three in the conservation area of Sukau, two in Telupid and one in Lahad Datu – were found by wildlife rangers.
The carcass of a one-year-old male elephant was found near Sungai Resang, Sukau, on April 6.
The next day, an adult female elephant was found dead in Lahad Datu.
A few weeks later on April 26, the carcass of a 37-year-old female elephant was found in Ladang Mayvin 2. A juvenile male elephant was found dead in Sukau on May 10.
A female adult elephant was found dead in Telupid on Tuesday, while the carcass of a four-year-old elephant was found in Kinabatangan on Sunday.
The sex of the four-year-old elephant is still unknown.
The recent deaths continue to raise concerns over the well-being of the endangered elephants, which number around 2,000 in the wild.