KOTA KINABALU: The Ministry of Plantation and Commodity Industries will meet with wildlife authorities in Sabah to find out the reason for the death of many elephants in and around the state’s oil palm plantations.
His Minister Datuk Zuraida Kamaruddin said he was surprised to learn that many Borneo pygmy elephants had died in plantation areas on Sabah’s east coast.
The most recent was a rescued female elephant, around two years old, who succumbed to her injuries on Tuesday June 21.
READ ALSO : Rescued baby elephant dies one day after amputation
This was after vets amputated his foot which was nearly severed by a trap at an oil palm plantation in the Tungku area of Lahad Datu district.
“I just heard that this baby elephant died of his injuries,” Zuraida told reporters after attending the Malaysian cocoa industry awards ceremony on Wednesday (June 22nd).
“As wildlife issues are handled by the state government through the Sabah Wildlife Department, I think we will have to engage them because I (was) unaware of the many fatalities.
READ ALSO : An adult pygmy elephant found dead in an area in Lahad Datu
“We need to find out (the cause of the deaths) and (why) they are happening in the oil palm plantations.
“We have to see how we can overcome this,” she said, adding that she would also consider using the ministry’s green fund allocations to help with animal conservation.
She had been asked about her ministry’s action plan to address the alarming rate of deaths involving the endangered Asian elephant subspecies in plantations in Sabah.
READ ALSO : Sabah Wildlife Dept searches for source of cadmium responsible for killing pygmy elephants
Tuesday’s elephant calf death was just one of a string of deaths involving fully protected pygmy elephants in Sabah over the past decade.
The gentle creatures were threatened by poaching and human-animal conflict and many had died of unknown causes.
In addition to being trapped in traps, pygmy elephants have also been found poisoned and shot.
READ ALSO : Sabah’s pygmy elephants could be wiped out if nothing is done, conservationist says
According to the Department of Wildlife’s Borneo Elephant Action Plan for Sabah 2020-2029, experts estimate that there are only around 1,000 to 1,500 animals in the entire state, including the elephant range of central Sabah.