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Several children even skipped school yesterday to catch National Elephant Conservation Centre (NECC) officers and state Wildlife and National Parks Department (Perhilitan) rangers in action, assisted by two trained female elephants.
The five-hour operation involved an adult female and two male calves which were relocated to the Royal Belum State Park.
Villagers watched intently as the trained elephants, Abut and Rambai, were deployed to calm the two calves so that NECC and Perhilitan personnel could get near enough to sedate them.
Abut and Rambai then moved closer to the wild female elephant, which had earlier been tranquillised with darts, and stayed by her side while officers secured her legs with chains.
The wild female elephant, which has been named Mek Chemor, was later led by Abut and Rambai to a waiting heavy truck.
Then, it was the turn of the two youngsters, now named Mat Kinta and Mat Manjoi, to be loaded onto the truck with Mek Chemor.
NECC elephant unit head Nasharuddin Othman said the wild elephants were part of a bigger herd believed to have lost its way while moving between the Korbu Forest Reserve, Chemor and Tanjung Rambutan.
“We think there could be five more of them out there,” he said, adding that Mek Chemor was believed to be the mother of one of the calves.
According to Nasharuddin, Mek Chemor was more than 30 years old and weighed over three tonnes.
“The calves are perhaps around three years old and have not been completely weaned,” he said at the end of the five-hour exercise, adding that Perhilitan officers would continue to monitor the whereabouts of the other wild elephants.
Village chief Panizan Abdul Hamid, 58, said villagers have had their crops and fruit trees either eaten or destroyed by wild elephants since February.
“One villager suffered significant losses when all his fish died after the elephants took a dip in his fish pond. Occasionally, we find elephant droppings here and there,” he added.
Among those spotted in the crowd was 13-year-old Mohd Dinish Haikal Samsudin who, when asked if he had skipped school, declared: “It’s an elephant-watching holiday for me today.
“I’ve never seen them in real life. I even managed to touch the ones that are tamed,” added Mohd Dinish Haikal excitedly.