10 dead Borneo pygmy elephants feared poisoned

Jan 29, 2013 by Sean Yoong
In this Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 photo released by Sabah Wildlife Department, a 3-month-old elephant calf tries to awake its dead mother at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Sabah, Malaysia. Ten endangered Borneo pygmy elephants have been found dead in the Malaysian forest under mysterious circumstances, and wildlife authorities suspect that they were poisoned. (AP Photo/Sabah Wildlife Department)

(AP)—Ten endangered Borneo pygmy elephants have been found dead in a Malaysian forest under mysterious circumstances, and wildlife officials said Tuesday that they probably were poisoned.

Carcasses of the baby-faced elephants were found near each other over the past three weeks at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, said Laurentius Ambu, director of the wildlife department in Malaysia's Sabah state on Borneo island.

In one case, officers rescued a 3-month-old calf that was apparently trying to wake its dead mother.

Poisoning appeared to be the likely cause, but officials have not determined whether it was intentional, said Sabah environmental minister Masidi Manjun. Though some elephants have been killed for their tusks on Sabah in past years, there was no sign that these animals had been poached.

In this Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 photo released by Sabah Wildlife Department, Malaysian wildlife officials investigate the death of an elephant at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Sabah, Malaysia. Ten endangered Borneo pygmy elephants have been found dead in the Malaysian forest under mysterious circumstances, and wildlife authorities suspect that they were poisoned. (AP Photo/Sabah Wildlife Department)

"This is a very sad day for conservation and Sabah. The death of these majestic and severely endangered Bornean elephants is a great loss to the state," Masidi said in a statement. "If indeed these poor elephants were maliciously poisoned, I would personally make sure that the culprits would be brought to justice and pay for their crime."

The WWF wildlife group estimates that fewer than 1,500 Borneo pygmy elephants exist. They live mainly in Sabah and grow to about eight feet (245 centimeters) tall, a foot or two shorter than mainland Asian elephants. Known for their babyish faces, large ears and long tails, pygmy elephants were found to be a distinct subspecies only in 2003, after DNA testing.

Their numbers have stabilized in recent years amid conservation efforts to protect their jungle habitats from being torn down for plantations and development projects.

The elephants found dead this month were believed to be from the same family group and ranged in age from 4 to 20 years, said Sen Nathan, the wildlife department's senior veterinarian. Seven were female and three were male, he said.

Post-mortems showed they suffered severe hemorrhages and ulcers in their gastrointestinal tracts. None had gunshot injuries.

"We highly suspect that it might be some form of acute poisoning from something that they had eaten, but we are still waiting for the laboratory results," Nathan said.

Explore further: Stanford researchers rethink 'natural' habitat for wildlife

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Big-eyed Borneo slow loris tagged for first time

Jul 17, 2011

Malaysian wildlife researchers have tagged a Bornean slow loris for the first time as part of efforts to find out more about the nocturnal primate known for its big eyes and rare toxic bite.

Recommended for you

Plants with dormant seeds give rise to more species

Apr 18, 2014

Seeds that sprout as soon as they're planted may be good news for a garden. But wild plants need to be more careful. In the wild, a plant whose seeds sprouted at the first warm spell or rainy day would risk disaster. More ...

Scientists tether lionfish to Cayman reefs

Apr 18, 2014

Research done by U.S. scientists in the Cayman Islands suggests that native predators can be trained to gobble up invasive lionfish that colonize regional reefs and voraciously prey on juvenile marine creatures.

User comments : 8

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

VendicarE
2.8 / 5 (9) Jan 29, 2013
Well, as my Libertarian Brothers say..

The only good animal is a dead animal.

Capitalism killed those Elephants.
aroc91
3 / 5 (2) Jan 29, 2013
How very relevant.
full_disclosure
1.4 / 5 (9) Jan 29, 2013
The 'Coward Herr Vendicar' has childishly changed his personal login profile, slightly to avoid people following his name back through past comments..... Anyone interested in his cowardly death threats towards posters in the past comments section, follow them through the link below. http://phys.org/p...ndicarD/
VendicarE
3.7 / 5 (6) Jan 29, 2013
FullDiaper needs a shave.

If he won't do it for himself then the coming National Razor will do it for him.

Have your freedom lists ready people.
ValeriaT
1 / 5 (4) Jan 29, 2013
Capitalism killed those Elephants
Moa birds were eradicated with Aboriginals in Australia before five hundred years. Was the capitalism culprit there too?
full_disclosure
1 / 5 (7) Jan 29, 2013
Link fixed....just check out the 'Green Murder Porn' this guy wanks to....

http://phys.org/p...ndicarD/
VendicarE
5 / 5 (3) Jan 29, 2013
"Moa birds were eradicated with Aboriginals in Australia" - ValeriaT

Were their feathers or meat traded?

Capitalism isn't the only form of murder of course, and ValeriaT is foolish to presume it is.

Sinister1811
1.7 / 5 (6) Jan 30, 2013
Capitalism killed those Elephants
Moa birds were eradicated with Aboriginals in Australia before five hundred years. Was the capitalism culprit there too?


Moa birds were native to New Zealand, and were eliminated by Maori tribesmen.

More news stories

Making graphene in your kitchen

Graphene has been touted as a wonder material—the world's thinnest substance, but super-strong. Now scientists say it is so easy to make you could produce some in your kitchen.

Low tolerance for pain? The reason may be in your genes

Researchers may have identified key genes linked to why some people have a higher tolerance for pain than others, according to a study released today that will be presented at the American Academy of Neurology's 66th Annual ...

How to keep your fitness goals on track

(HealthDay)—The New Year's resolutions many made to get fit have stalled by now. And one expert thinks that's because many people set their goals too high.