WWF wants action over elephant deaths

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KOTA KINABALU: The recent unexplained deaths of six Borneo pygmy elephants in Sabah is a wake-up call for all parties to iron out the human-elephant conflict in Sabah, says the World Wildlife Fund.

WWF-Malaysia is calling for industries and landowners to be held accountable for any death of elephants on their land.

It said the state Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry’s move to amend the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 to include a strict liability provision was a step in the right direction.

The amendment meant that landowners would be held accountable should the death of an elephant occur on their land.

“With more accountability, we believe industry players will be more inclined to take the necessary measures to prevent elephant deaths as well as to conserve this iconic species,” said WWF-Malaysia executive director and chief executive officer Datuk Dr Dionysius Sharma in a statement yesterday.

However, WWF-Malaysia said more analysis was needed to decide on the viability of the amendment in the long run.

The statement is in response to that made by Chief Minister Datuk Seri Mohd Shafie Apdal, who on Monday directed probes on the tragedy and called for more action, and not just “lip service”.

WWF-Malaysia is also calling for the existing cooperation between government enforcement agencies and the various non-governmental organisations to be fortified in order to mitigate the human-elephant conflict in Sabah.

“WWF-Malaysia offers its support to the state government in its conservation efforts of not only the Borneo elephants but also wildlife as a whole.

“We will continue to work with government agencies and other NGOs to prevent further loss of elephants,” said the body.

The carcasses of the six endangered Bornean pygmy elephants in the east coast of Sabah had been discovered on separate occasions since April 6, with the last one found on Sunday.

The elephants were between one and 37 years old.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the department had taken organ samples for toxicology and bacteriology tests and the cause of the deaths could only be fully determined once the results were known.

Post-mortem results showed the elephants were not gunned down.

Whodunnit?: One of the six pygmy elephants found dead in a plantation on Sabah’s east coast.