Thursday January 31, 2013
Three more elephants found dead
KOTA KINABALU: Three more endangered Borneo pygmy elephant bodies were found in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, raising the death toll to 13.
State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun confirmed the latest discovery of a male and two female decomposing bodies in the area where 10 others were found since Dec 29.
There is a possibility that more may be found as wildlife officials believe that all the 13 elephants and a rescued calf were part of a single herd.
They are believed to have consumed some form of natural or pesticide poison while roaming in the Yayasan Sabah forest management unit 23 (FM23) that is locked between Sabah's Maliau Basin and Danum Valley forest reserves.
Masidi said that there was growing suspicion of foul play in their deaths.
“No amount of laws and enforcement can be effective if people do not have the sense of responsibility that these animals belong to the people,” he said yesterday.
He has ordered his ministry's permanent secretary Datuk Michael Emban to take over as chairman of the special task force set up to investigate the deaths, which have been dubbed a “conservationist nightmare”.
Meanwhile, the Sabah Wildlife Department is waiting for a chemist report on the possible causes of the elephant deaths.
Sabah Chief Minister Datuk Musa Aman said the deaths of the elephants were “unacceptable”.
“I want no stone left unturned in this matter. The culprits must be brought to justice,” he said in a statement.
Musa said the state government viewed the matter seriously as Borneo pygmy elephants were an endangered species and were part of Sabah's rich and exotic wildlife.
“People come from all over the world just to catch a glimpse of these animals. It is unfortunate that there are people who would resort to such a horrific act,” he added.
Calf not out of woods yet