Pygmy elephant calf desperately tries to wake up dead mother who was one of ten animals found poisoned
- A total of ten of the creatures have been discovered in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, Borneo, over the past three weeks
- Conservation officials believe the endangered animals had been poisoned
- Estimated to be fewer than 1,500 Borneo pygmy elephants in existence
A baby pygmy elephant tries in vain to rouse its mother, one of ten of the endangered creatures found dead in a Malaysian forest.
Experts believe the rare, baby-faced animals, whose bodies were found in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Sabah state, Borneo, had been poisoned.
Wildlife officials rescued this three-month-old elephant calf, which was found glued to its dead mother’s side in the jungle.
The seven female and three male elephants, which were all from the same family group, have been found over the past three weeks.
Sabah’s environmental minister Masidi Manjun said the cause of death appeared to be poisoning, but it was not yet clear whether the animals had been deliberately killed.
There are believed to be fewer than 1,500 Borneo pygmy elephants in existence.
While some have been killed for their tusks in the area in recent years, there was no evidence to suggest the elephants had been poached.
‘This is a very sad day for conservation and Sabah. The death of these majestic and severely endangered Bornean elephants is a great loss to the state,’ Mr Masidi said in a statement.
‘If indeed these poor elephants were maliciously poisoned, I would personally make sure that the culprits would be brought to justice and pay for their crime.’
Borneo pygmy elephants live mainly in Sabah and grow to about 8ft tall, a foot or two shorter than mainland Asian elephants.
Known for their babyish faces, large ears and long tails, pygmy elephants were found to be a distinct subspecies only in 2003, after DNA testing.
Their numbers have stabilised in recent years amid conservation efforts to protect their jungle habitats from being torn down for plantations and development projects.
The elephants found dead this month were believed to be from the same family group and ranged in age from 4 to 20 years, said Sen Nathan, the wildlife department’s senior veterinarian.
Post-mortem examinations showed that they had suffered severe haemorrhages and ulcers in their gastrointestinal tracts. None had gunshot injuries.
‘We highly suspect that it might be some form of acute poisoning from something that they had eaten, but we are still waiting for the laboratory results,’ Mr Nathan said