BY MARY CHIN
KOTA KINABALU: There have been five elephant deaths so far since the beginning of this year, said Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew.
She said a young baby elephant that was rescued by the Sabah Wildlife Departments’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) after it was found wandering alone in a plantation in Kinabatangan, succumbed to its injuries after two weeks of intensive veterinary care.
The other four cases involved two adult females, one adult male and a two-year-old young male within the districts of Kinabatangan and Lahad Datu. In the most recent one, an adult female elephant was found dead on Wednesday (Feb 12th) in Bagahak, Lahad Datu. A post-mortem to ascertain its cause of death was conducted on the same day.
“Though most of these deaths point towards suspected poisoning which could be intentional or unintentional, no conclusive results could be recovered from the previous toxicology analysis.
“The Sabah Wildlife Department is now working feverishly to send these tissue samples for a more in-depth and broad-spectrum toxicology analysis within Malaysia and abroad to try to find out the source of the toxin.
“This will cost the Sabah Government quite a lot but we will leave no stone unturned in our quest to solve the cause of deaths of the poor elephants,” Liew, who is also Minister of Tourism, Culture and Environment, said in a statement issued here, Thursday. .
Saying that the human-elephant conflict is not confined just to Sabah alone, she noted that in fact, such conflicts are much more severe throughout the Asian Elephant range countries.
“Take Sri Lanka for instance. In 2019 alone, there were 361 elephant deaths and more than 100 people were killed in the incidence of human-elephant conflict in the same period, compared with Sabah that had 150 elephant deaths from 2010 to 2019 and only four human deaths in that 10-year period.
“It just goes to show that although we are experiencing quite serious instances of elephant deaths as a result of the conflict, the situation in Sabah is still under control. This is attributed to the cooperation of all parties involved in the conflict as they are equally very much concerned for the plight of the elephants,” Liew pointed out.
The Minister said, in Sabah, there is close working relationship with conservation non-governmental organisations (NGOs) and plantation industries in efforts to minimise the human-elephant conflict as much as possible.
It is very important to hear the advice and inputs from not only NGOs but also from the local communities in solving the conflict in some of our districts in Sabah, she added.
“Let me assure you that the Sabah Government takes elephant conservation as one of its top priorities. Just yesterday (Wednesday), the Sabah State Cabinet tabled and passed the 10-year Bornean Elephant Action Plan (2020-2029) which further enhances the protection and conservation of the Bornean Elephants in Sabah.
“Together, we want to ensure that the elephant population will procreate and perpetuate the species in Sabah. All concerned citizens are, therefore, responsible for making sure that the deaths of elephants for whatever reason be kept to the very minimum level while we still strive for zero death,” Liew concluded. –END–