Published on: Saturday, February 09, 2013
Kota Kinabalu: The chemical analysis by the Chemistry and Forensics Departments on the samples taken from the elephant carcasses a week ago have not yielded any conclusive evidence yet.
Because of this, Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Masidi Manjun said the Wildlife Department has requested the Chemistry and Forensics Departments to expand their scope of tests on more possible contaminants.
"To ensure greater transparency of the entire issue, my Ministry will be seeking a second opinion from other laboratories," he said Friday.
According to him, he has instructed the Wildlife Department to send samples to two internationally accredited forensic testing facilities in Thailand and Australia to improve the effort to find any chemical compounds that may have caused the elephants' death.
The samples, he said, would be sent immediately to Ramathibodi Poison Centre at Mahidol University of Thailand and to the Chemistry Lab of the Queensland Government Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Australia for a comprehensive test and analysis.
Masidi said both entities are renowned institutions in this particular field. He also said he has been in touch with Sabah Commissioner of Police Datuk Hamza Taib and that the latter informed him that the police are in the midst of a very thorough investigation that involves all possible parties.
He said it includes plantations and logging companies within the vicinity where the dead pachyderms were found.
"I have full confidence in the ability of the police to do their job well," he said.
On the other hand, he expressed hope that the people would refrain from jumping to conclusions at this point of time but to wait until the case is fully investigated to avoid innocent parties being unfairly implicated.
Fourteen Borneo pygmy elephants were found dead under mysterious circumstances at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, about 139km from Tawau, recently.
Hamza said there were logging companies with 300 workers near the said location where the pachyderm carcasses were found.
The case is currently being investigated by the police under Section 429 of the Penal Code for mischief towards animals, which is punishable by up to five years in jail.
A reward of RM70,000 is being offered for information leading up to the arrest of the parties responsible for the death of the endangered elephants.
Meanwhile, police have obtained a lead to facilitate investigations into the death of 14 pygmy elephants at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve.
Sabah Police Commissioner Datuk Hamza Taib said the police had also recorded statements from timber company representatives and witnesses, apart from sending samples obtained at the location, to the Chemistry Department for analysis.
"The clue is there. However, to solve the case is not that easy," he told reporters after launching the Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) Identification Enforcement Act 2009 roadshow in Tawau on Friday.