KOTA KINABALU, Sept 28 — Sabah Wildlife authorities have confirmed reports of two dead Bornean Pygmy Elephants here, with one believed to be the work of ivory poachers.
Sabah Wildlife Director Augustine Tuuga said they found two elephant carcasses within a span of two weeks at separate locations in Sabah’s east coast district of Tawau and Sandakan.
“The death of the elephants is true but the death of the elephant found in Dumpas was not due to poaching,” he said when contacted by Malay Mail Online.
He said authorities first discovered the carcass of a young male elephant on September 10 in Dumpas, Tawau which still had its small tusks still attached and no visible external injury on its body.
A post mortem took samples of the animal’s vital internal organs for analysis.
However, a second elephant carcass found drifting in the Kinabatangan river on Monday in a highly decomposed state with its tusks sawn off. It was believed to have been killed by poachers upstream along the Kinabatangan river and then dumped into the river.
“The only way to find out where it might have been killed is to check both sides of the river upstream to find traces of the killing spot. It’s a bit difficult to pinpoint where give the length of the river but we will try our best to find out and continue investigation,” said Tuuga.
News of the elephant carcasses were highlighted in local portal BorneoToday.net, which quoted unnamed sources that speculated that both they could have been killed around the same time by the same poachers hunting for ivory.
Earlier last month, authorities were also notified of a female elephant that was shot to death near a forest reserve.
Elephants in Borneo have been under threat from plantation development which has resulted in land fragmentation that tears through their normal habitat. As a result, elephants are sometimes considered a threat or nuisance to plantation and estates who can suffer losses from damage to their crops.
The endangered species are also under threat from the global ivory trade that has wiped out populations of elephants elsewhere.
On a separate incident of photos of slaughtered turtles found on Bum Bum island off Semporna, Tuuga said that they were sending a team to the site today to investigate further and take samples.
The photos showed at least nine turtles found dead on a beach, some evident that its plastron was missing.
“We have spoken to the photographer of the photos and will investigate and take action if evidence if found,” said Tuuga.
He said it was possible that there were hunters who sold the meat and skin as recently prosecuted in a court case last month.
In the court case, four Filipino fishermen were jailed for two years for possession of 18 turtle plastrons, three sacks of turtle meat and a sack of turtle shells in boat near Bohey Dulang island off Semporna.
Similarly, photos of sharks with their fins cut off landing at the Sandakan jetty were also garnering attention with environmentalist calling for a total ban on shark fishing here.