A Pygmy elephant was found dead in Tawau town of Sabah, Malaysia on September 25. The elephant is believed to be shot around 70 times by the poachers from a close range. After the brutal attack, the poachers hacked off its two tusks. The body of the elephant was found tied by the riverbank last week with half of its body submerged in water, according to a source quoted by a local daily.
Pygmy elephants of Borneo are smallest in size among Asian subspecies. Baby-faced pigmy elephants have plump bellies and long tails and they are gentler than other Asian elephants. The number of pygmy elephants is sharply on the decline due to constant poaching for their tusks. The agricultural expansion has also led to the shrinking of their natural habitat which makes them more vulnerable.
The Wildlife Department carried out the investigation only after photos of the dead elephant emerged on the Internet. While Sabah wildlife department director Augustine Tuuga said that the brutal attack on the pygmy was not a common sight, he also analysed that the act didn’t look like a professional operation and hand of locals is to be believed behind the attack. It was not established whether the elephant suffered a lot before the brutal death but a bullet was found right through the left temple, a local daily quoted source. The attack was so brutal that it fractured and penetrated the skull and decimated the brain.
According to the international conservation group WWF, only around 1,500 surviving Borneo pygmy elephants are left. It is protected under (Schedule 1) in the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997 of Malaysia. The elephant is listed as endangered on the IUCN red list of threatened species. It is protected under Malaysian law and the violators face a jail term up to five years and a hefty fine.