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Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) acting manager Dr Diana Ramirez (right) said due to increasing human-elephant conflict, the species has developed a taste for young oil palm where large plots of plantations are found in the State’s east coast. Pic by NSTP/IZHARI ARIFFIN

KOTA KINABALU: There is a possibility that the female elephant shot recently at a plantation in Kinabatangan was chased away by planters as the herd was feasting on their crops, Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) said today.

Its Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) acting manager Dr Diana Ramirez said due to increasing human-elephant conflict, the species has developed a taste for young oil palm where large plots of plantations are found in the State’s east coast.

While their unit was not involved in the post-mortem, she said based on known behavioral pattern, an elephant could walk a long way even after being wounded by gunshots.

“We can’t say how far this elephant has walked (after being shot) but these are strong animals.

“Some after being shot would only move a few steps before collapsing while others have been known to have walked over 100 metres and more,” she said when asked on the possibility of the elephant being shot at a plantation or nearby forest reserve.

“But a herd of elephants is capable of destroying hundreds of hectares of crops overnight, and herd-size varies from maybe five to sometimes 30 elephants. So, you can imagine the impact,” Dr Diana told New Straits Times.

She was commenting on the killing of a Bornean pygmy elephant, estimated to be around 10 years old that was discovered by a plantation worker on Aug 4 at Golden Apex plantation, about 100 metres away from the Malua Forest Reserve.

The mammal which was still breathing when found, suffered gunshot wounds to its head, stomach and waist.

Dr Diana believed that based on the fresh wounds, the elephant was shot between 24 to 48 hours before being discovered by the worker.

Yesterday, SWD director Augustine Tuuga said they have shifted investigations to crop farm workers and owners to establish if they were behind the killing.

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