Caustic intoxicant indicated in deaths of 14 elephants

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KOTA KINABALU: The probe into the mysterious deaths of 14 Borneo pygmy elephants in Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Tawau, early this year is still on-going with latest results coming from Thailand.

 

Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) Director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu said the histopathological analysis detected the presence of what is referred to as 'caustic intoxicant' or in laypersons terms, unidentified toxic poisoning. 

"It was still not known what type of toxin was responsible for the lesions, if it was administered deliberately or accidently consumed by the elephants," he said at a press conference at SWD headquarters, here this morning. 
 
 Dr Laurentius said the extensive testing carried out in Malaysia and Thailand had yet to provide confirmation on the type of toxins the elephants consumed, in part due to high rate of decomposition.  
 
He said they also sent the duplicate samples to various institutions in Malaysia and to Mahidol University and Ramathibodi Poisons Centre and the Armed Forces Research Institute of Medical Science both in Thailand as well as to the Queensland Biosecuity Sciences Laboratory in Australia to throw a wide net and ensure that all possibilities were tested for.
 
"The laboratory in Australia is still processing the samples and the results will be released by the SWD once they receive them. The samples were finally sent overseas on March 6 to Thailand and March 13 to Australia," he said. 
 
Meanwhile, he added the baby Kejora, the three-month-old elephant calf whose mother was one of the 14 dead elephants, had settled down and was doing well at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park where it is being hand-raised by the Wildlife Rescue Unit Rangers. -- BERNAMA

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