Drastic measures expected to prevents animal deaths at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

KOTA KINABALU: Drastic steps are expected to be taken to improve the conditions at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park where two critically endangered Borneo Pygmy elephants died in less than two months.

Newly minted Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew will be making a second visit to the wildlife park here, which declared that “all was well”.

This comes after she made a surprise visit to the park about two weeks ago.

Sources said Liew is expected to visit the wildlife park with officers on a fact-finding visit early Saturday (June 30) where she is expected to make some tough decisions on the management and upkeep of the park.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga had confirmed a Star Online report that two elephants died at the zoo on May 7 and June 27 respectively.

Liew’s decision to go to the wildlife park was following the report and briefing.

It was reported that an adolescent male elephant rescued 13-years ago from the Lahad Datu’s Yapid plantation died on June 27, while a four-year-old old calf died on May 7 at the wildlife park.

Wildlife Department officials had kept a lid on the deaths amid recent calls by animal activists for improvements at the park that acts as a rescue and rehabilitation centre for wildlife.

Sources said that wildlife veterinarians are puzzled over the deaths of the two elephants in captivity as so far, post-mortem reports have not shown any indication for the cause of deaths.

It is understood that the calf, which was born in captivity, was ailing for a while before it died.

The deaths in captivity, sources said, were worrying and needs to be addressed immediately.

The sources said that there seems to be an official silence on the matter and hoped that efforts will be done to resolve problems at the wildlife park.

In early June, Friends of Orang Utan director Upreshpal Singh raised concerns about the upkeep of animals at Lok Kawi but the Sabah Wildlife Department dismissed allegations that animals at the park are being kept under poor conditions.

While Liew made a surprise visit two weeks ago to the zoo following the complaints, she had said that all was good at the park.

At least seven elephants in the wild died due to unknown causes over April and May this year in various areas in the east coast of Sabah.

This has prompted Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal to call on wildlife officials to investigate thoroughly the cause as well as take serious steps to stop the deaths of the critically endangered elephants.

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