7 jumbos die in mud pool (Kota Kinabalu, Malaysia)


Daily Express 

Date Published

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Seven pygmy elephants died after being stuck inside an abandoned quarry pit for over a week near a timber camp in Rinukut, Tawau.

The seven elephants were part of a herd of nine, which could not come out of the nine to eleven foot deep mud pool.

Wildlife rangers were only able to rescue two of the elephants as five were already dead when they arrived and two others had to be put down.

Sabah Wildlife Department Director Augustine Tuuga said they received a report from an individual passing the route on Sept. 10 on nine elephants being unable to get out of a deep mud pool near Berkat Saga Timber Camp, there.

“Unfortunately when our team managed to reach the location, five (2 adult, 1 juvenile and 2 newborn) of the nine trapped elephants were already dead.

“With the use of heavy machinery from the timber camp, two of the stronger adult elephants were pulled out to safety, and instantly, ran back into the forest,” he said.

Tuuga pointed out two others had to be euthanised as they were too weak, dehydrated and blind.

Elephants are listed under Part 1 of protected animals under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment.

It could not be ascertained as who or what created the mud pool in the area but Tuuga has ruled out foul play after investigating and reviewing the post-mortem reports.

“The elephants probably went in the mud pool to cool themselves and bathe.

“Unfortunately they probably underestimated the depth and thickness of the mud which could have caused them to become trapped inside the pit,” said Tuuga.

He advised that excavation sites should be filled or fenced up to prevent any recurrence, especially in area frequent by elephants.

State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Datuk Seri Masidi Manjun said the deaths of the elephants in yet another case was a huge loss to the pygmy elephant population in Sabah that was already facing a tough time to survive.

“While the cause of death this time around is accidental, I hope that there are valuable lessons that we can learn from this incident.

“We need to minimise lurking danger within the area and environment where they normally move … they are our assets that help generate tourism revenue for Sabah,” he said.

Masidi said individuals and companies should take upon themselves the duty and responsibility to protect the iconic animal and contact the Wildlife Department whenever they see situations that could potentially endanger elephants.

Under Section 37 of the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 any person who does any act with such recklessness that causes injury or death of an animal could face a fine of RM20,000 or two years jail.

A few years ago, several elephants were found dead in Lahad Datu from suspected poisioning.