KOTA KINABALU: Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) wants to straighten things out following false allegations towards its rescue team of elephant abuse during translocation operation.
SWD referring to a Facebook posting circulating since a few days ago, admitted that while elephant translocation is a dangerous activity as each of the mammal react differently, there was no way its staff would harm or intended to abuse the wild animal.
The posting shared at the social media showed photographs of an elephant in chains and being poked by one of the Department's officer.
SWD director William Baya in a statement here explained the posting referred to a wild elephant being translocated from a human-elephant conflict area in Kampung Bauto, Telupid back in February last year, to a protected forest reserve some 200 kilometres away.
"In this particular case my team was up against a rogue bull elephant that was exceptionally dangerous and was a huge threat to the lives of the rescue personnel as well as the villagers.
"Hence the added precaution and care was taken by my staff. In normal cases when the wild elephants are more cooperative, the translocation process is done more smoother and with less risk," said William.
The Department's assistant director and Wildlife Rescue Unit manager Dr Sen Nathan explained elephant translocation involves tracking of the elephant, followed by darting tranquillizers, restraining, transportation and release to a safe site.
"As seen in the photo stills of the video the ‘poking’ happened during transfer of the elephant into the translocation crate... Different elephant will react differently towards this process and if the elephant is cooperative, they will let to move on their own while the chains are pulled.
"This process has to be done with care as if the elephant walks toward the wrong way, it might end up outside the crate and easily push the crate down and fall onto other personnel at the site.
"To sum up, poking using the blunt end metal pole is to divert the attention of the animal and so they walk in the right direction and not to hurt the animal, which is never our intention. Let me also assure your that this elephant was not hurt in anyway.
"This explanation I hope allays any fear of animal abuse by the Department," he added.