Another pygmy elephant found dead, floating down Kinabatangan river

A file picture of two pygmy elephants crossing a road in Taliwas forest, Sabah. - AP

KOTA KINABALU: The carcass of a Borneo Pygmy elephant was found floating down from the upper reaches of the Kinabatangan river early Sunday (Nov 3).

It could not be immediately ascertained if the elephant died of natural causes or was the victim of poachers but a team of Sabah Wildlife Department rangers were heading to the area to ascertain the cause of the latest death of Sabah’s critically endangered jumbos.

When contacted, Department director Augustine Tuuga said that an

investigation was underway but felt that it could be difficult to determine the exact area the elephant died as it was seen floating down the Kinabatangan river.

“This one may be difficult. It was floating from upstream so it is bit difficult to find out where the carcass originated. I do not have details as yet, ” he said adding that the team was heading to the area to investigate and carry out the necessary action.

The team is expected to recover the carcass before carrying out a post mortem.

The discovery of the elephant was reported by members of the community-based eco-tourism cooperative members (Kopel) in Batu Puteh along the Kinabatangan river.

This would be the third death in five weeks with the first incident involving the merciless killing of a bull elephant at a plantation in Tawau’s Kalabakan area in late September.

Six suspects have been arrested and are expected to face charges under the Firearms Act for possession of illegal firearms as well as charges under the state’s Wildlife Conservation Enactment for killing of a critically endangered jumbo which had its tusks removed.

The decomposing body of another elephant was then found under suspicious conditions at a plantation Sabah’s central Beluran district in mid–October.

So far, wildlife experts have not been able to positively pinpoint the cause of death though suspicions have been raised that it might have been a victim of poachers or poisoning.

Two holes were found on the decomposing elephant with no bullet shells while its tusks were found later near the body.

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