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Jumbo deaths raise welfare alarm


Sad end: The pygmy elephant that was rescued from a plantation in Lahad Datu 13 years ago, died on June 27 due to unexplained causes.

Sad end: The pygmy elephant that was rescued from a plantation in Lahad Datu 13 years ago, died on June 27 due to unexplained causes.

KOTA KINABALU: Drastic steps are expected to be taken at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park where two endangered Borneo pygmy elephants died within two months.

Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Christina Liew will be at the wildlife park today on a fact-finding visit in which she is expected to make some tough decisions on the management and upkeep of the park, sources said.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga confirmed a report in The Star Online that two elephants died there on May 7 and June 27.

An adolescent male elephant rescued 13 years ago from Lahad Datu’s Yapid plantation died on June 27 while a four-year-old calf died on May 7.

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

Sources said that wildlife veterinarians were puzzled over the deaths of the two elephants.

So far, post-mortem reports have not given any clue about the cause of the deaths.

It is understood that the calf, which was born in captivity, had been sick.

The deaths in captivity, sources said, was worrying.

Earlier this month, Friends of Orang Utan director Upreshpal Singh raised concerns about the upkeep of animals at the Lok Kawi Zoo but the Sabah Wildlife Department dismissed allegations that the animals were kept under poor conditions.

Tuuga said this was the second time that such an accusation had surfaced, adding that the animals were “well looked after”.

Liew made a surprise visit two weeks ago following the complaints.

However, she said then that all was good at the park.

At least seven elephants in the wild have also died of unknown causes in April and May in various parts of Sabah’s east coast.

Lok Kawi , elephants

   

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