International non-governmental organisation Orangutan Appeal UK has pledged an additional RM10,000 for the arrest of those involved in the recent killing of an elephant in Sungai Udin Tawau.
With Orangutan Appeal UK’s pledge, the bounty now stands at RM30,000 with RM10,000 offered by the Sabah Wildlife Department and RM10,000 donated by a concerned individual.
Its founder Sue Sheward said she was shocked to hear about the heinous crime where a 30-year-old bull elephant was shot by poachers in Sungai Udin last week.
“I just arrived in Kota Kinabalu two days ago and heard this gruesome news from the Assistant Director of Sabah Wildlife Department Dr Sen Nathan. He was devastated as he and his team conducted the post-mortem, and he told me that in his 25 years of working with wildlife, he has never come across an act as cruel as this” said Sue.
“As I have made a pledge to the honourable Chief Minister of Sabah Datuk Seri Shafie Apdal when I met him last year to help him and Sabah in conservation activities, I would like to pledge RM 10,000 to be added to the reward pool for any information that would lead to the successful capture and prosecution of elephant poachers of Sungai Udin Tawau.
“This is the right thing to do and I hope more Malaysians can step up and assist in capturing these cruel elephant poachers,” Sue said.
Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said it was hoped that people would come forward with information on the incident.
“The area is sparsely populated but the department will continue to track down those responsible for the killing,” he said today.
Augustine said the post-mortem conducted on the pygmy elephant revealed that it died from a bullet wound to the head.
He said over 70 gunshot wounds fired at close range were found on its body but that did not cause its death.
“One shot had fractured and penetrated the skull before it had its tusks removed,” he said, adding that it was an adult male elephant, aged between 20 and 30, and not a juvenile female, which it was initially thought to be.
The pygmy elephants (Bornean Pygmy Elephant) are fully protected species under the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997.
Last Thursday, a group of anglers found the carcass of the pygmy elephant in Sungai Udin, Dumpas in Kalabakan, near Tawau, believed to have been dead for three to four days. It had a rope tied around its neck.
When officers from the Wildlife Department went to look for the elephant a day later, it was found without the rope and in a sitting position on the riverbank.
The elephant, with a height of 1.8 metres, had gunshot wounds on its cheeks, head, body and back.
In an operation dubbed ‘Operasi Khazanah’, police are now assisting the Sabah Wildlife Department to track down those involved in the killing.
The case is being investigated under Section 25/28 of the Wildlife Enactment 1997 which carries mandatory jail time if convicted.
Augustine said that there have been more than 100 elephant deaths reported in the last nine years, from a variety of causes, including being shot to death, poisoned or deadly illnesses.