A reward of RM20,000 lead to pygmy elephant’s killers

KOTA KINABALU: The authorities are on the hunt for the killers of an adult Borneo pygmy bull elephant in Tawau after it was found dead, riddled with over 70 gunshot wounds and its tusks sawed off.

Sabah Wildlife Department will carry out the operation together with the police and other agencies on the latest killing, which many say revealed some of the worst injuries they had ever seen.

RM20,000 is offered as a reward by the department in exchange for information leading to the capture of the poachers.

To avoid any “loophole” in tackling the wildlife crime, Department Department director Augustine Tuuga has declined to reveal details of their next course of action. “We are extremely angry at the poachers and at how this situation persists.

“We are in the middle of coming up with something. Immediate action is being taken and a probe is being conducted, ” he said yesterday.

Tawau police chief Asst Comm Peter Umbuas said wildlife officials had requested help from them in the investigation and to aid in cracking down on the poachers.“We have agreed to assist with security and will be meeting up for a discussion soon on organising an integrated operation, ” he said.

According to an autopsy report, the elephant was found with over 70 bullet wounds on its body, leading wildlife officials to believe that at least 70 shots were fired before it had its two tusks removed.

Believed to be over 30 years old, the dead elephant was first discovered by anglers tied to a tree near the Sungai Udin riverbank on Sept 25. Due to the condition it was in, the animal was thought to be a juvenile female.

However, upon the investigation of the wildlife officials, including vets and the post-mortem team, they found that it actually had its tusks sawn off.

According to the anglers, there were not sure why the elephant was tied in such a way but this could be to prevent the carcass from being swept away by the river currents, while others believed that the poachers might have hoped for crocodiles to eat it.

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