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Jumbo was felled by gunshot

Published on: Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Kota Kinabalu: The adult male elephant around 18-25 years old that dropped dead along a road inside the Felda Umas Oil Palm Plantation, in Tawau, on Friday, was found to have been shot.

Tawau Wildlife Department Officer Soffian Abu Bakar said the department received a call from the plantation manager at around 9am that day stating they had stumbled across a dead elephant in their area.

"We suspected it died from gunshot which was confirmed by our Wildlife Rescue Unit's veterinary team that conducted the post mortem," said Soffian.

"We seek assistance from the public on any information regarding the death of this elephant, as a crime has been committed," he said.

State Wildlife Department Assistant Director Dr Sen Nathan said the Wildlife Rescue Unit's veterinary team arrived later that day to conduct the post mortem and found a small wound on the abdominal area which indicated entry of a bullet.

"We then found lodged in the left lung a bullet or maybe even a slug from a shotgun cartridge. It had entered the abdominal area, penetrated the intestines causing serious internal bleeding and finally hitting the lung," he said.

"It was quite sad as this elephant did not die straight away and had probably suffered for about two to four days before succumbing to its injury," he added.

The bullet/slug was handed over to the police for further examination and identification.

State Wildlife Director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said: "What we see here is an ongoing malady, not only in Felda Umas but also other parts of Sabah that share its areas with elephant habitats."

"The elephants in Felda Umas have been an ongoing issue. We have to date translocated about more than 15 elephants from this area. This elephant that was killed was one of the few that were still remaining within the vicinity of the plantation, awaiting translocation," he said.

"We also have a similar problem in Telupid. Since July more than 25 elephants have ventured out of their forest habitat and caused undue damage to fruit trees and small oil palm plantations owned by villagers," he explained.

In fact this group had made their way as close as one kilometre from Telupid townÉwe have already translocated around eight elephants and we are still in the process of translocating the others.

Even areas that have never experienced or seen elephants in the past are now facing serious elephant-human conflictÉone of these is in Pensiangan/Sapulut dtrict where elephants are now quite commonly seen near villages feeding off fruit trees and destroying other crops as well," he said.

Aked about the translocation, Dr Ambu said: "This (translocation activity) is very expensive and easily cost up to RM 30,000 per elephant. Sometimes just a few weeks after the elephant had been translocated, they end up going into other human populated areas, causing problems there."

Early last year 14 elephants were discovered dead and lab test results later showed the death was caused by unidentified toxic poisoning or in expert terms "caustic intoxicant", in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Kinabatangan, which attracted international attention.

But to date no one has been brought to book for the killing.