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Confirmed: Dead elephant found in Sabah river killed for tusks by poachers

Confirmed: Dead elephant found in Sabah river killed for tusks by poachers

Tasneem Nazari

Last week, photos of what was believed to have been a dead elephant calf, went viral on social media.

The photos showed the elephant, tied to a tree by the Sungai Udin riverbank in Dumpas, Tawau.

Picture credit: The Star Online

Many speculated that the elephant had been shot dead due to a large hole in its back.

Alarmed by the photos, Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga instructed for investigations for the elephant’s cause of death to be conducted.

Today, reports confirm that the elephant was actually an adult male pygmy elephant believed to have been shot over 70 times by poachers before they removed its two tusks.

Picture credit: The Borneo Post

This conclusion was reached by the team of vets and wildlife officials who conducted a post-mortem on the animal after heavy machinery was used to drag the elephant’s carcass out of the river and onto dry land.

According to The Borneo Post, the elephant is believed to have been shot by poachers using semi-automatic guns from a close range. 

The shots had fractured and penetrated the elephant’s skull and decimated its brain.

Confirming the post-mortem, Augustine Tuuga described the elephant’s circumstances of death as cruel.

FYI, in Malaysia, pygmy elephants are protected under (Schedule 1) in the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.

The enactments states that anyone found guilty of killing protected animals could be jailed up to five years and slapped with a fine of RM250,000.

Currently, there is an estimate of only 1,500 surviving Borneo pygmy elephants in the wild.

Pygmy elephants in Borneo
Picture credit: World Wildlife Fund

They are regularly found dead, increasing concern about their declining numbers.

According to Tuuga, at least 100 pygmy elephants have died in the last 10 years, some of which were deliberately killed by poisoning or by gun-shots.

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