Fourteenth rare Borneo pygmy elephant found dead

January 31, 2013
Wildlife department officials measure a dead pygmy elephant in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, in Malaysia's Sabah state, Januray 29, 2013. A fourteenth rare Borneo pygmy elephant has been found dead of suspected poisoning, Malaysian officials said Thursday, the latest in a series of fatalities that has shaken conservation efforts.

A fourteenth rare Borneo pygmy elephant has been found dead of suspected poisoning, Malaysian officials said Thursday, the latest in a series of fatalities that has shaken conservation efforts.

Meanwhile, an official warned that a three-month-old baby elephant, poignantly photographed trying to nuzzle its dead mother, was losing weight fast and may not survive.

The decomposed remains of the latest known victim were located on Wednesday, said Laurentius Ambu, director of the wildlife department in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island.

Officials believe the animals may have been poisoned, possibly by substances left out by workers at nearby oil palm plantations to deter the animals from eating their palm fruit.

They fear more dead pygmy elephants—an endangered species—could be found because they usually roam Borneo's jungles in herds of 50 to 60 animals.

Masidi Manjun, Sabah's tourism, culture and environment minister, warned it would be a "challenging task" to keep the three-month-old orphaned calf alive as it was consuming only half its normal 30 litres (7.9 gallons) of milk daily.

A baby elephant stays close to a dead pygmy elephant in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, in Malaysia, January 29, 2013. Officials believe the animals may have been poisoned, possibly by substances left out by workers at nearby oil palm plantations to deter the animals from eating their palm fruit.

"It is surviving, but it is going to be a challenging task," he told AFP by phone from Sabah of the calf, which has been named "Joe".

It is being kept in quarantine at a wildlife park and has lost 10 kilograms (22 pounds) after being traumatised by an 800 kilometre (497 mile) road journey to the park, the Star newspaper said Thursday.

State officials on Tuesday released photos of the original 10 pachyderms to be found dead, including one of the orphan and its dead mother.

A chemists' report on the beasts would be completed next week and could reveal what killed them. Poisoning is suspected due to severe ulceration and bleeding in the animals' digestive tracts.

Dozens of wildlife officials, police and other personnel have been dispatched to comb through the Gunung Rara reserve, where the carcasses have been found, for other possible victims.

Masidi vowed to push for severe punishment including a stiff jail sentence for anyone found to have maliciously poisoned the animals.

"It is a combination of anger and sadness. I am still grieving. I fail to understand human behaviour," he said.

WWF-Malaysia in a statement blamed the deaths on rampant felling of forests by planters, which had forced elephants to find alternative food and space and put them in conflict with humans.

The group says only about 1,200 Borneo pygmy elephants, which are smaller and have more rounded features than full-sized Asian elephants, are estimated to be left in the wild.

Explore further: Satellite tracking reveals threats to Borneo pygmy elephants

Related Stories

Palm planters blamed for decline of Borneo monkey

December 7, 2011

Expanding palm-oil plantations in Malaysian Borneo are rapidly eating into the habitat of the rare proboscis monkey and causing its numbers to decline sharply, officials warned Wednesday.

Rare elephant found dead in Indonesia

May 16, 2012

A critically-endangered Sumatran elephant has been found dead in Indonesia's Aceh province, an official said Wednesday, the second death from suspected poisoning within a month.

10 dead Borneo pygmy elephants feared poisoned

January 29, 2013

(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.

Recommended for you

Genomes uncover life's early history

August 24, 2015

A University of Manchester scientist is part of a team which has carried out one of the biggest ever analyses of genomes on life of all forms.

Rare nautilus sighted for the first time in three decades

August 25, 2015

In early August, biologist Peter Ward returned from the South Pacific with news that he encountered an old friend, one he hadn't seen in over three decades. The University of Washington professor had seen what he considers ...

Why a mutant rice called Big Grain1 yields such big grains

August 24, 2015

(Phys.org)—Rice is one of the most important staple crops grown by humans—very possibly the most important in history. With 4.3 billion inhabitants, Asia is home to 60 percent of the world's population, so it's unsurprising ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.