‘Death of ranger an unfortunate incident’

KOTA KINABALU: The incident where a handler was gored to death by an elephant at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park near here on Sunday was an unfortunate incident, says state Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Jafry Ariffin.

He said the state Wildlife Department had informed him that standard operating procedures were in place for their handlers at the park.

“They (Lok Kawi Wildlife Park) have SOPs but it was very unfortunate what has happened,” he said yesterday.

Wildlife ranger Joe Fred Lansou, 49, was gored to death by an adult elephant within the park’s enclosure at about 8.30am on Friday.

The father of three school-going children was the head of the elephant unit at the wildlife park.

Jafri, who extended his personal condolences to the family, said the Sabah Wildlife Department will make arrangements for his insurance to be paid to the family.

“Besides that, my ministry will allocate assistance for the family,” he said, adding that he had also given immediate personal cash assistance to the family.

Penampang district police chief Deputy Supt Mohd Haris Ibrahim said police have classified the case as sudden death.

Police investigations showed that the victim was treating an injured calf when the elephant gored him.

He suffered injuries to his chest and abdomen and died at the scene.

The body had been sent for post-mortem at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital here.

Meanwhile, social and environmental activist Jefferi Chang said the government must conduct a full inquiry into what triggered the elephant to gore its handler to death.

Chang said it was important to look into whether it was suitable to keep the elephants within the zoo enclosure or send them back to wildlife areas, or even the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary.

“I believe the space in the wildlife park may not be enough for these elephants.

“They will be stressed with their movements restricted. This makes them unpredictable.

“We have the death of a ranger now. We cannot take these things lightly,” he said.

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