Two Borneo pygmy elephants die at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park

KOTA KINABALU: Two endangered Borneo pygmy elephants including a calf is believed to have died at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.

It is learned that an adolescent elephant rescued 13 years ago from the Lahad Datu's Yapid plantation died two days ago (June 27) while a four-year-old calf is believed to have died on May 7.

However, Wildlife Department officials remained tight-lipped over the deaths amid recent calls by animal activists for improvements at the wildlife park which serves as a rescue and rehabilitation centre for wildlife.

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

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

The incident of deaths in captivity was worrying and needs to be addressed immediately, said the sources, adding that wildlife officials appear to be silent on the matter.

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

Its director Augustine Tuuga said this was the second time that such an accusation had surfaced, and added that the animals were "well-looked after".

Newly minted Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew in a surprise visit to the zoo following the complaints also said that all was good at the park.

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

The deaths in the wild also prompted Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal to call on wildlife officials to investigate thoroughly the cause as well as take serious steps in stopping the deaths of the critically endangered elephants.

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