KOTA KINABALU: Two holes possibly caused by bullets were found on the back of a decomposing Borneo pygmy elephant in a plantation in Sabah's Beluran district on Saturday (Oct 19).
However, no bullet fragments were found in the carcass or surrounding areas by Sabah Wildlife investigators probing the second elephant death within a month in the east coast of Sabah.
Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew said that it was difficult to determine the cause of death as the carcass was in an advanced state of decomposition.
According to the post mortem report, she said though the animal was initially suspected of being shot, no bullets were found inside or surrounding the carcass.
"Two holes that were found on the dorsal aspect of the carcass were systematically examined but these could not be positively identified as bullet holes due to the rotting muscles and organs.
"This, however, does not rule out the idea that this elephant was poached as the tusks were obviously removed," she said in a statement Monday (Oct 21).
She said the elephant was 2.6m in height and was estimated to be in its 20s and could have died about five days before the discovery at Ladang Bimbingan in Beluran.
Liew, who is state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister, said that she ordered Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga to work with police and carry out full investigations to solve the latest death.
"All leads will be investigated. We have to make sure that no stone is left unturned in our effort to pin down the perpetrators.
"I earnestly hope the Sabah Wildlife Department and police would be able to track down the poachers so that they will be charged and punished to the fullest extent of the law.
"I am deeply saddened by this whole episode, especially since this brutal killing happened again, less than one month after an elephant in Tawau was shot mercilessly (over 70 times) before it died," she added.
Liew reiterated her advice to the plantations to work closely with the relevant authorities in exercising tighter security control over entry-points "to prevent potential poachers from entering their plantations and killing the wildlife there".