KOTA KINABALU: Wildlife rangers have located the site of a Bornean pygmy elephant that was buried at an oil palm plantation in Kinabatangan area by the estate management in an attempt to hide the death.
The rangers were tipped off about a week ago that an elephant was buried at the plantation sometime before Jan 20.
The informers also provided a photo of an excavator allegedly used to bury the beast.
Sources claimed that the estate management decided not to report the death to the authorities.
Other sources in Kinabatangan claimed that the estate had at least three to four elephant deaths last year that were reported to wildlife authorities.
They also claimed that most of the elephants that died in the area were suspected due to poisoning.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga when contacted only confirmed that they were investigating the case.
“I am waiting for the full report from the team on the ground, ” he said.
Under Sabah’s wildlife conservation enactment, it is mandatory to report the death of a fully protected animal like elephants.
Those found guilty of concealing the death could be fined up to RM50,000 and jailed.
Over the past three years, elephants had died in Sabah suspected due to poisoning and wildlife authorities had yet to identify the sources of the poisoning.
Meanwhile, forest rangers carrying out anti-poaching operations caught three contraband smugglers after they intercepted a vehicle in an area close to the Paitan Forest Reserve in Beluran.
Sabah chief conservator of forest Datuk Mashor Jaini said that a team from the Forestry Department had moved in on the vehicle only to find contraband cigarettes worth RM5,000 inside it.
There were two men and a woman in the vehicle, two of them were Malaysians while the other was an Indonesian, during the operations at around 11.30pm on Saturday, he said.The suspects and the contraband cigarettes would be handed over to the Customs Department for further action, he added.
Sabah Forestry Department had set up the special team to check on poaching at state forest reserves amid growing concerns over wildlife hunting in the state.
On Jan 24, the team arrested three teenagers aged between 16 and 19 for alleged possession of a homemade shotgun and four bullets. They were suspected to be involved in poaching activities at Myvin 2 Estate close to the Tawai Forest Reserve in Telupid.
The suspects had hidden the shotgun loaded with a bullet within the oil palm trees while three bullets were found in a bag of one of the teenagers.
Beluran police chief Supt Kasim Muda said that all three of them were related, adding that the suspects and the seized firearm were handed over to the police.
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