Sabah DCM upset pleas ignored after death of another pygmy elephant

The carcass of the Bornean pygmy elephant found at an oil palm plantation in Lahad Datu, Sabah, on Sunday. (Sabah Wildlife Department pic)

KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Deputy Chief Minister Christina Liew is upset that her pleas to plantation owners and workers not to harm the wildlife have gone unheeded, with another Bornean pygmy elephant found killed in the state on Sunday.

The carcass of the female adult elephant was found in an oil palm smallholding near Kampung Perpaduan Skim Bagahak in Tungku, Lahad Datu.

Liew, who is also the state tourism, culture and environment minister, said the elephant was suspected to have died of toxaemia (acute blood poisoning).

She said she had appealed to all plantation owners and workers not to kill wildlife animals following the spate of elephant deaths in Sabah this year, but it was still continuing.

“It is regrettable that we have lost another precious pygmy elephant. I have already said what I wanted to say.

“Generally, Malaysians are a caring lot but there are some in our midst who have failed to realise that these Bornean pygmy elephants are the state’s wildlife heritage, to say the least,” she said.

A herd was surrounding the carcass when it was found by a farm worker at 6.30am. A police report was lodged on the same day.

The latest incident is similar to the case of another female adult elephant called “Girang” which also died from poisoning on Nov 16. She had been fitted with a satellite collar.

In Sunday’s case, Liew said the post-mortem on the elephant, aged between 20 and 25 years, found that it had multiple organ congestion in the heart, lung, liver, spleen and kidneys coupled with blood clots in the heart, and intestinal lesions.

She said the cause of death was possible ingestion of a toxic substance, or food poisoning, and that sample tissues had been sent to the chemistry department for analysis.

She said there was no external or bullet wound on the body although there was bleeding from the ears, nostril and mouth.

Liew said she is counting the days for the implementation of the 10-year Sabah Elephant Management Action Plan (2020-2030) in January.

“It lays out clauses that will hold plantation workers and owners accountable for any elephant injured and killed on their land.

“In the meantime, we are banking on the General Operations Force (GOF) in Sabah, particularly the Tiger Platoon, to assist the Sabah Wildlife Department in combating wildlife poaching and poisoning,” she said.

Sabah opposition party tells Liew to step down

Meanwhile, Sabah Progressive Party (SAPP) vice-president Gee Tien Siong has taken Liew to task over the scores of elephant deaths, saying she had failed to address the issue.

Gee told the minister to resign for failing to protect Sabah’s endangered wildlife, especially the Bornean pygmy elephants.

“Since this minister took office, there have been a surge of deaths of pygmy elephants. It is unusual to have six deaths in just two or three months.

“The minister also seemed clueless about regulating poaching. It is frustrating that only a week after the 10th Asian Elephant Specialist Group Meeting was held here, another elephant fatality has been reported.

“There have been over 20 elephant deaths reported this year due to poaching, poisoning, killing each other and natural causes,” he said in a statement today.

Gee claimed Sabah’s resources in terms of flora and fauna had rapidly reduced since the new government took over.

“The Sumatran rhino in Sabah became extinct when the last died last month. What’s left is memory and I am afraid the Bornean pygmy elephants would be next on the verge of extinction,” he said.