2 elephants found dead near Sabah’s forest reserve

The carcass of the female elephant found in Sukau on Saturday. – pic courtesy of Sabah Wildlife Department.

KOTA KINABALU: Two adult female elephants have been found dead in separate areas near Sabah’s Sukau and Deramakot Forest Reserve over the weekend, the state wildlife authorities said today.

“The first was found in Ladang Sentosa in Sukau on Saturday. I just received initial information on the other case in Deramakot today, near Ladang Tangkulap IOI,” Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said, adding that a team had been dispatched to Deramakot.

The sites of both incidents are located about 200 kilometres apart in Sabah’s rainforest.

Tuuga has yet to rule out foul play in both incidents but he noted that there were no external wounds on the animals.

The death of the two elephants came on the heels of an ongoing probe into the death of an elephant in Kinabatangan, where wildlife authorities suspected a plantation operator had tried to cover up its death.

On Jan 20, the state wildlife department had received an anonymous tip-off that a dead elephant was being buried with an excavator.

Most of the elephants that died in the area were believed to have been poisoned and so far, there have been three or four cases.

Under the state wildlife laws, the death of a fully protected animal species must be reported.

Late last year, four elephant deaths were recorded between October and November, the highest number of deaths over the span of merely five weeks, triggering concerns that the population of the Sabah pygmy elephants was fast dwindling.

Many of the deaths occur either within or near oil palm plantations deep in Sabah’s rainforest.

A 2006 census revealed that there were 2,040 elephants in the wild in Sabah and wildlife experts fear their numbers have drastically dropped since then.