Baby Elephant Dies After Stepping On Illegal Snare Trap & Undergoing Leg Amputation

The autopsy found that the baby elephant's death was caused by vital organ failure and internal bleeding.

Cover image via Sinar Daily & Wildlife Rescue Unit (Facebook)

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The Wildlife Rescue Unit was alerted by estate workers in Lahad Datu, Sabah about a female baby elephant who had its front right leg caught in a snare trap on Saturday, 18 June

In a statement by the Wildlife Rescue Unit, the team was successful in locating the injured elephant at Felda Sahabat 5 in the Tungku area. The young female was then treated on site at Felda Sahabat 4.

In a follow-up inspection, the endangered animal, which was less than two years old, had to have her leg amputated as it was severely fractured as a result of the snare trap being too tight.

Alongside the amputation, a part of her ankle had to be removed to prevent the foot tissue from getting worse.

Sabah Tourism, Culture, and Environment Minister Datuk Jafry Ariffin warned against using such snare traps.

"I am deeply grieved that certain parties' irresponsible trap-setting has resulted in the young elephant's terrible injuries. Setting up snare traps is a cruel act punishable under the Wildlife Conservation Enactment of 1997," he said.

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Image from Wildlife Rescue Unit (Facebook)
Image via Wildlife Rescue Unit (Facebook)

As a result of the amputation, the young animal lost her ability to live independently with her herd and had to live with lifelong impairment

"At less than two years old, baby elephants still rely on their mothers for nourishment and social interactions with their herds," Jafry added.

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Image from The Borneo Post
Image via The Borneo Post
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Image from Wildlife Rescue Unit (Facebook)
Image via Wildlife Rescue Unit (Facebook)

Unfortunately, following the surgery on Monday, 20 June, the baby elephant passed away the next day

According to Sinar Daily, the young female elephant had shown good signs of recovery after the surgery as she ate and drank as a normal healthy elephant would.

"However, the next day (Tuesday, 21 June), the baby elephant looked quite weak and depressed. Treatment and medication were administered and the baby elephant responded well," said Jafry.

It was reported that the animal collapsed in the afternoon. 

Sinar Daily reported him saying, "It tried to get up but collapsed again briefly at about 6.15pm and stopped breathing just before the veterinarian confirmed its death."

An autopsy was conducted on Wednesday morning, 22 June, where they found that the cause of death was due to failure of vital organs such as the heart and lungs, as well as bleeding in the alimentary canal in the stomach and intestines.

"It was due to an infection on the wound it had suffered since being caught in the trap," he added.

Image via Sinar Daily

The veterinarian who treated the elephant tried his best to save her but she eventually passed on

Jafry added, "I am very saddened by the incident and I hope the injuries that caused such death will not recur in the future."

He even called on all levels of Sabah society to work together to curb such illegal trapping activities from reoccurring. This would be done to protect wildlife from injuries or death, especially endangered animals such as elephants.

Hunting animals and using snare traps is a crime punishable under Section 33(1)(k)(iii) of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997. Those convicted will face a fine of not less than RM20,000 and not more than RM100,000, or imprisonment of not less than six months and not more than five years, or both.

The wildlife department has also offered RM5,000 to those who have any information in regards to the incident.

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