Elephant deaths: Sabah offers RM120,000 reward to catch poachers

A penetrating wound was found near the female elephant's temple area.

TELUPID: The Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) is offering a reward of RM120,000 for any information that would lead to the arrests of poachers or people setting up snare traps in the state.

The offer was announced following the shocking deaths of 25 Borneo pygmy elephants in the first eight months of this year, with 24 of them dying in the last four months.

The causes of death ranged from gunshot injuries, to wounds incurred from traps set up by hunters and other unknown causes.

Elephants injured by trapping devices will develop infections before they die.

WWF Malaysia said that snares are commonly used by poachers, where they are placed along animal trails in forest reserves bordering plantations with the intention of catching wild boars and deer.

Though elephants are very rarely the target of poachers, they commonly fall victim to these devices as they use the same trails as other wildlife.

SWD director Augustine Tuuga said it was not easy to detect the culprits as no witnesses have come forward so far to give information despite the RM120,000 reward offer.

This is not the first time the department has offered cash rewards for information leading to the arrest of the culprits. It had previously made a similar offer following the deaths of 14 elephants in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in 2013.

According to Tuuga, that case is still open.

"We also offered RM20,000 reward for information on the killing of the elephant with sabre tusks (in 2017) but nobody came forward.

"Don’t know, maybe they really do not have any information," Tuuga said, when asked why no one had come forward.

In the latest case, a female elephant was found dead at Ladang Bintang Emas Property Sdn Bhd in Tongod here on Saturday (Aug 25).

The cow, aged between 12 and 15, was believed to have been shot dead about a week before its discovery.

SWD public relations officer Siti Nur'ain Ampuan Acheh said the case was reported to the department by the Tongod District Forest Officer.

"SWD despatched a team of rangers and veterinary officer to investigate and conduct a post-mortem on the animal on Monday (Aug 27).

"The carcass was mildly decomposing. It was estimated that it had died about a week earlier," she said.

Siti Nur'ain said a round-shaped penetrating wound was found near the elephant's temple.

"No bullet was found on the body. The death of the elephant is probably due to neurological damages caused to the brain," she said.

The cow was among four elephants found dead over the weekend in Sabah's east coast. Another elephant was found trapped in a snare trap and suffered injuries.

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