Thursday January 31, 2013
Calf not out of woods yet
By MUGUNTAN VANAR
KOTA KINABALU: The three month-old Borneo pygmy elephant calf, the sole survivor of a herd that was killed from suspected poisoning, is in good health although it is not out of the woods yet.
Named “Joe” by Wildlife Rescue Unit personnel, the calf, which was photographed trying to wake his dead mother up at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve on Jan 25, has been kept in quarantine and under watch by veterinarians and Lok Kawi Zoo personnel.
WRU veterinarian Dr Diana Raminez described the calf as bright, alert and active.
“These are good signs but he has to be watched for two weeks before he is out of any immediate danger,” she said.
One problem is that the 106kg calf has not been consuming enough milk possibly due to the stress of losing its mother and the 800km road journey to the Lok Kawi Zoo here.
Dr Raminez said a normal calf would consume 20 to 30 litres of milk daily.
But Joe is only taking half of that, she said, adding that it was bottle-fed every two hours.
“We don't know if he might also have been affected by the poisoning,” she added.
She said the calf had also consumed its mother's faeces, which is said to be normal behaviour, and there were signs that Joe's weight had dropped by 10kg.
Dr Raminez, a Mexican working with the WRU, said Joe had become close to his carers, rangers Augustine David and Jibius Dausip, who were feeding him, and was behaving normally as he was curious about his new environment.
Initially called Kejora (which sounds feminine), he has been renamed Joe by the rangers.
He is the sole survivor from a herd of elephants found dead at Gunung Rara Forest Reserve about 130km from Tawau, Sabah.
The deaths are believed to have been caused by some form of poisoning, with post-mortem reports showing the intestinal tracts and other internal organs badly damaged.
While waiting for the chemist report to identify the type of poisoning, the Sabah Wildlife Department has set up a task force to investigate the deaths.
Dr Raminez said the chemist report would help determine the way Joe was treated.
Experts believe sprayed pesticides could not have caused the deaths, speculating that the elephants' food source or known watering holes might have been poisoned.
Three more elephants found dead