Thursday February 28, 2013
Rescuers save 10 pygmy elephants
By RUBEN SARIO
KOTA KINABALU: Quick action by wildlife rescuers saved a herd of 10 Bornean pygmy elephants that had wandered off their range and ventured as close as 10km from the east coast town of Lahad Datu.
The rescue unit from the Sabah wildlife department captured and relocated the nine female adults and the lone male, a four-year-old calf, in an operation from Jan 18 to Jan 25.
Disclosing details of the eight-day roundup here yesterday, unit senior officer Jibius Dausip said the elephants had ventured more than 45km from the Tabin wildlife reserve.
“We received a call from Sri Tungku Simpang Ladang Permai, near Lahad Datu, that the elephants were roaming near his house,” he said.
Wildlife rangers rushed to the scene and captured the elephants using tranqualiser darts.
Department veterinarian Dr Diana Ramirez said the female elephants were transported to the Tabin reserve, with two of the largest animals fitted with satellite collars provided by the Danau Girang Field Centre.
The calf was transferred to the Low Kawi wildlife park, near here. “Its trunk was severely injured, probably from a snare trap. Without captive intervention it would have little chances of survival in the wild,” she said.
Department senior veterinarian Dr Senthivel Nathan said: “We are studying the possibility of releasing future translocated herds together.”
He said they were not able to translocate and release the current herd together due to logistical reasons. “That might also cost more.”
Danau Girang Field Centre director Dr Benoit Goosens said two elephants fitted with satellite collars by the centre showed they had not ventured into plantations around Tabin.
“If they return in the vicinity of Lahad Datu, we will advise plantation owners on how to fence their land to avoid any intrusion.”