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Jumbo tragedy was so unnecessary: Lee
Published on: Saturday, September 17, 2016
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Kota Kinabalu: Activist and animal lover Tan Sri Lee Lam Thye said it is heartbreaking and difficult to accept the death of the seven pygmy elephants in an abandoned quarry pit in Rinikut, Tawau. "The loss of the endangered animals is a huge blow to Sabah's efforts on the conservation of the 1,500 or so remaining elephants in its forests," he said, in a statement, here.

This latest discovery of the dead elephants is the second largest case of such deaths in Sabah, he pointed out.

In January 2013, fourteen adult elephants were found dead in a widely suspected case of poisoning in a forest reserve near Tawau.

Lee said although the Sabah Wildlife Department has ruled out foul play over the deaths of the animals, such tragedies could have been prevented if humans working in the forests are sensitive enough to the needs of the animals and act consciously to prevent any untoward incident involving wildlife.

"The herd of pygmy elephants entered the mud pool to frolic without knowing the depth and quick-sand conditions of the pool excavated by humans.

"Then were trapped inside for a week without being noticed and died before they could be rescued.

"The tragedy could have been prevented if the mud pool left unused had been filled up after works had completed," he said.

Lee said he agreed with State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun that the elephants' deaths was a sad day for Sabah in respect of its conservation efforts and that plantations and companies operating close to wildlife-rich areas should play a role in identifying dangers to wild animals and take remedial action to prevent accidents.

"Let this latest tragedy be a wake-up call to all humans to exercise their conscience and do more to protect wildlife sharing our planet and assist in conservation efforts.

"Do not allow more wildlife tragedies because of human neglect and callousness," he said.

On Sept 14, the Wildlife Department said the seven elephants were part of a herd of nine which were stuck in a mud pool.

Wildlife rangers were able to rescue two elephants but five were already dead when they arrived and two others had to be euthanised as they were too weak, dehydrated and blind.



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