Sad week for endangered animals

Tragic end: The carcass of the pygmy elephant was found at an oil palm estate in Lahad Datu.

KOTA KINABALU: It was a sad weekend as the carcasses of an endangered pygmy elephant and a green sea turtle were found in separate incidents.

The pygmy elephant, which was found dead at an oil palm estate in Lahad Datu on Friday morning, is believed to have died of poisoning.

There were no external wounds on the elephant’s body but there was blood coming out of its trunk, mouth and anus, said Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Jafry Ariffin when contacted yesterday.

Its rectum was also inflamed with mild prolapse, he added.

Jafry said a post-mortem showed that all its organs were in a moderate to severely decomposed state.

The carcass of the adult male elephant, which was estimated to be between five and seven years old, was discovered by Felda Sahabat I estate workers, he added.

Citing information from the state Wildlife Department, he said the elephant was believed to have died about two days earlier.

He said there was a presence of bubbles in the animal’s stomach, small and large intestines. The organs were collected for histopathology and toxicology tests.

“The preliminary cause of death is respiratory failure due to various reasons and triggers following toxicity, which could mean suspected poisoning,” Jafry added.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said though initial investigations indicated that the elephant may have died from poisoning, they were not sure whether it was deliberate or accidental.

“Elephants often wander in search of food and can sometimes accidentally consume toxic materials,” he said when contacted.

This is the fifth elephant death recorded so far this year.

Tuuga believed all estate operators were doing their part to ensure that toxic waste was discarded according to regulations as they were closely monitored by the relevant authorities.

He added that estate operators had to pass the Malaysian Sustainable Palm Oil (MSPO) and Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil (RSPO) certifications and were bound by their rules.

The department, he said, had no jurisdiction in monitoring the MSPO and RSPO “but we work closely with the authorities involved to ensure sustainable practices”.

Meanwhile, Bernama reported that a green sea turtle was found dead on the shore of Kuala Abang in Dungun on Saturday morning.

Terengganu Fisheries Department director Ruzaidi Mamat said villagers who stumbled upon the carcass of the male turtle, aged between 20 and 30, lodged a report with the department.

“The carcass had started to decompose, its limbs were swollen and its inner organs were protruding from its back. The turtle is believed to have died about a week ago.

“However, there were signs of no injuries or torture. This report of a dead turtle is the 24th one we have received this year,” Ruzaidi said in a statement.

He added that the public could contact the nearest Fisheries District Office or call 03-8888 5019 if they come across a turtle which is dead or still alive.

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