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KOTA KINABALU, Nov 18 — Deputy Chief Minister Datuk Christina Liew will call an emergency meeting with the state Wildlife Department after a fifth endangered elephant was found dead in a span of two months.
Liew, who is tourism, culture and environment minister, said that the meeting with senior department officers is to discuss the matter.
“I would like to hear from them what can be done to improve the situation. This is important because we have to understand what actually went wrong... maybe officers on the ground can suggest to us what we can do.
“I will call the meeting after the sitting,” she said.
She was speaking to reporters at the State Assembly building here today.
Liew said that she was extremely saddened by the deaths, including the most recent case involving a young calf that was trapped in a mud pool in Lahad Datu on November 1.
She said the state’s action plan on elephants must be executed as soon as possible.
“We need the approval of the Cabinet before tabling. This is something we cannot accept or tolerate. Every time an elephant dies, a part of me dies too,” she said.
The first death reportedly occurred on September 5 when the body of an elephant was recovered in Kalabakan, with 70 bullet wounds and its tusks missing.
Later, an elephant body was discovered in Beluran with its tusks missing on October 19.
Then, another the bull elephant was found floating in the Kinabatangan River with the toes of the animal’s front two feet had been cut off.
Last weekend, two more elephant carcasses were found — one in Kinabatangan, a collared elephant believed to have been poisoned, and the calf in the mud pit.
Liew denied rumours of a cover up for culprits, particularly those in oil palm plantations.
“No. There’s 60 rangers, 14 stations, you cannot cover it up. I don’t want to do this kind of thing. If something is right, it is right. If it is wrong, it is wrong,” she said.
Bornean pygmy elephants are endangered and there are believed to be 1,500 to 2,000 of the species left in the wild.