KOTA KINABALU: Sabah wildlife rangers are having trouble locating 40 Borneo Pygmy Elephants which encroached into a plantation in Lahad Datu near here, in their efforts to lead the herd back into the jungle.
The herd of elephants, one of which was injured by a snare trap, have split up and are literally playing and "hide and seek" as rangers together with plantation workers try to stop the animals from destroying newly-planted and young oil palm trees in the plantation.
"Elephants enter the plantation at daytime and move into the nearby Masuli Forest Reserve at night.
"The elephants need to be driven across the Segama river to return to the Ulu Segama Forest Reserve," Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said on Saturday (Oct 6).
He added that wildlife rangers and plantation workers were working round the clock to minimise damage.
"Elephant control is still being done by Lahad Datu. The elephants have caused damage to newly-planted palms as well as old ones. The amount of damage has not been assessed yet.
"It is a difficult job since the elephants have split into several groups," he said.
Wildlife rangers have been in the area since Thursday after receiving a report from the plantation's management about the elephant intrusion.
Tuuga said that one of the elephants has a snare wound on its left front leg.
"We are sending another team with a veterinary officer to catch the animal and treat the wound," he said.
However, he said that the elephant was ensnared somewhere else and believes that it came from an area nearby where many snare traps have been found.