LAHAD DATU: Wildlife rescue workers in Sabah entered the new year in shock, as two wild bull elephants were killed by poachers near Segama River, Kawag Forest Reserve within a few weeks.
The first bull was found on Dec 27, 2016 in the middle of an estate bordering Kawag Forest Reserve while the second bull, a gorgeous sabre-tusked bull named Sabre, was found on New Year's Eve.
"We found the remains of Sabre on New Year’s Eve, with the satellite collar next to the skull,” said Danau Girang Field Centre Director Benoit Goossens in a statement on Jan 1.
Mr Goossens said Sabre was rescued from a plantation near Tawau early October last year, fitted with a satellite collar, and released into a forest reserve near Danum where he was presumed to be safe.
“We were obviously wrong. In the space of a month, Sabre and another large bull were killed by poachers for ivory. Both carcasses were found 1,500m from each other, although the killings did not happen at the same time,” said Goossens.
According to satellite data, Sabre was killed on Nov 21, 2016.
“We are ready to provide all necessary information to the investigators and to the police. I believe that this is the work of a professional hunter and trader," Goossens added.
“On the day China banned ivory trade, we get two of our precious elephants murdered for their ivory. Our elephants are already threatened by habitat loss, development such as the planned road/bridge in Sukau-Kinabatangan. And if we add poaching for ivory, I don’t give many years for the species to become extinct.”
Meanwhile, wildlife veterinarian from the Wildlife Rescue Unit, Dr Pakeeyaraj Nagalingam, who took part in the rescue and translocation of Sabre, said there are no words to express his sadness.
He told Bernama that it looks like there is no safe place for elephants in Sabah anymore.
"The relevant authorities who are responsible for enforcement of illegal wildlife poaching and other illegal activities must work harder and smarter if we want to conserve our wildlife in Sabah," he stressed.