KOTA KINABALU, March 1 ― Students and teachers of SMK Telupid had an unusual visitor ― an elephant which decided to stroll into the school’s canteen this morning.
The pachyderm walked into the school’s canteen at 6am, likely “taking a shortcut” through the forest but still sent the students and teachers scurrying to safety.
Wildlife Rescue Unit acting director Dr Diana Ramirez said the female elephant was likely just taking its usual route to the forests and did not recognise the humans as a form of threat.
“There were no damages. The female elephant was calm and no injuries were reported,” she said.
Beluran district police chief Supt V. Shivananthan, when contacted, said this was the second case this year involving elephants trespassing into inhabited areas in Sabah's interior Telupid district.
On Feb 28, 10 elephants entered the compound of the Beluran police station after the herd got through the fence. No injuries were reported in the incident.
The area of Telupid with over 10 villages has been invaded by a herd of about 20 elephants over the past five weeks and wildlife officers have been working round the clock to ensure no conflict occurred.
According to Ramirez, five elephants have been captured so far with three translocated to other sites.
The non-aggressive ones are being chased back to the forest.
“The Sabah Wildlife Department and Wildlife Rescue Unit team captured elephants from all villages around SMK Telupid, Balai police, Kg Gambaron and etc.
“Two adult males and two adult females ― one with a baby ― were successfully caught after receiving reports from the villagers of aggressive behaviour of these elephants in their area,” she said.
Ramirez added that the team was still on hand to prevent elephants from wandering into farms and other human settlements.
“As part of all this challenging and risky jobs, the WRU has been also facing other issues such as vehicle problems, continuously diesel and maintenance issues, veterinary equipment and in sufficient manpower.
“One of the rangers ended up at the hospital today after falling down in the muddy rocky area,” she said.