Borneo Pygmy Elephants

Death of elephants - Musa ordered thorough investigationsBorneo Pygmy Elephants in the Lok Kawi Zoo

By Elaine Mah
Pictures by Oliver Majaham

Chief Minister Datuk Seri Panglima Musa Haji Aman expressed great anguish at the death of 13 pygmy elephants in Tawau reported in yesterday's newspapers.

Chief Minister Musa Aman

“This is absolutely unacceptable. I want investigators to leave no stone unturned to get to the truth of this matter.  Whoever killed these elephants must be brought to justice,” he said.

He has instructed the State Wildlife Department and the Forestry Department to immediately and thoroughly investigate the death of the elephants.

He said the State Government viewed this matter seriously as Borneo's Pygmy elephants are endangered species and are part of Sabah’s rich and exotic wildlife that enjoy rigorous protection under the law.

“People come from all over the world just to catch a glimpse of these animals. It is sad and most unfortunate that there are people who would resort to such a horrific act to kill them, “ he said.

The death of 13 endangered Borneo pygmy elephants in the Gunung Rara forest reserves in Tawau have captured wide media attention across the globe.

According to conservation officials, preliminary investigations show a high likelihood of the elephants being poisoned as they found severe ulceration and bleeding in the animals’ digestive tracts. However, more tests have to be conducted in order to confirm that the animals were poisoned.

Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Masidi ManjunWhen met after the Barisan 1Malaysia Assembly at Wisma Muis today, Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment Datuk Masidi Manjun saidthat the death of the pygmy elephants is not only bad for conservation but also for the State’s image.

“There is no telling how much we lose with the deaths of these elephants,” he said.

Masidi said that the Wildlife Department together with the Forestry Department and the police are investigating the deaths.

“It is premature  to assignblame on anybody or party before a thorough and conclusive investigation is carried out,” he said.

Masidi made a plea to Sabahans to be aware of their responsibilities as citizens to protect the wildlife in the State.

“I hope Sabahans understand that these animals are ours and we have a responsibility to protect them. If we don’t recognize our responsibilities, these kind of cruelties will continue,” he said.

Meanwhile, in a statement to the press, the Malaysian Association of Tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) Sabah said that it will offer a cash reward of RM10,000 to anyone for information that will lead to the conviction of the culprit or culprits responsible for the deaths of the 13 elephants.

According to state government sources, there are fewer than 2,000 Borneo pygmy elephants left in the wild. Most of these are confined to the northern and northeastern parts of Borneo, with the majority of the population concentrated in Sabah. - Insight Sabah

Posted on January 31, 2013

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