Wednesday January 30, 2013
Vet witnesses elephant calf tugging at its dead mother
By MUGUNTAN VANAR
KOTA KINABALU: It was a heart wrenching sight for veterinarian Dr Sen Nathan when he saw a Borneo pygmy elephant calf tugging at its mother which lay dead at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Sabah's east coast Tawau district.
The Sabah Wildlife Department veterinarian witnessed this while investigating the “mysterious” deaths of 10 elephants seven females and three males at Forest Management Unit (FMU) 23, a Yayasan Sabah concession area in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve about 130km from Tawau.
“I felt sad, I don't have the words to describe my feelings,” he said, adding that the three-month-old male calf named Kejora was sent to the Lok Kawi Wildlife Zoo yesterday where staff are taking care of it including bottle feeding it.
The dead elephants aged between four-years-old to around 20 were discovered between Dec 29 and Jan 24 at a logging area between the famed Danum Valley and Maliau Basin in the south-eastern side of the central region of Sabah.
He said the area the elephants were found dead had about 1,000 of Sabah's estimated 2,000 pygmy elephant population.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said poisoning may be the main cause for the deaths of the elephants which they believed belonged to a single herd.
“Post mortem was done on all of them and it looks like their gastro-intestinal tract had severe haemorrhages and ulceration with some bleeding from the mouth and anus,” said Dr Ambu.
“We suspect that it might be some form of acute poisoning from something that they had eaten (natural toxins or pesticides) but we are still waiting for the laboratory results of the chemical analysis from samples taken from the dead elephants to confirm the diagnosis,” he added.
Ambu said that the first report of the dead was made on Tuesday after WWF field officers carrying wildlife survey came to know of the death from workers about 5km from the gates of Syarikat Empayar Kejora Sdn Bhd, a subsidiary company of Yayasan Sabah.
He said that they could have consumed the poison elsewhere and walked several kilometres before collapsing in various areas close to the Empayar Kejora area.
“We believe that all the deaths of these elephants are related.
“We have stationed our team there to check the area and to further investigate if there are any more elephants involved,” he added.