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Dead Pygmy Elephant In Tawau River Was Shot 70 Times And Had Its Tusks Removed

"It is not sure whether the elephant suffered greatly before dying, but one bullet went right through the left temple."

Cover image via myTawau/Facebook & Business Daily

A pygmy elephant which was found dead along Sungai Udin, Tawau was shot more than 70 times at close range before it had its two tusks removed

This was concluded in a post-mortem conducted by a team of vets and wildlife officials, according to a source from the Sabah Wildlife Department, reported The Star.

Based on the wounds and bullets found in all parts of the elephant's body, it is suspected at least four or five poachers were involved in the killing of the adult male pygmy elephant

The poachers were believed to have used semi-automatic guns fired from close range, said the source from the Sabah Wildlife Department.

The elephant was initially thought to be a juvenile female based on earlier photos that went viral last Wednesday, 25 September. However, the confusion could be due to how the carcass was found in the river.

"It was found tied to a riverbank and more than half of the elephant's body was underwater," said the source.

The body of the elephant was found by wildlife officers in a seated position after being pulled out of the river.

Image via Sabah Wildlife Department/Malay Mail

"It is not sure whether the elephant suffered greatly before dying, but one bullet went right through the left temple," the source explained

"Which might mean death was instantaneous, if the shot penetrated the skull and decimated the brain."

However, since there are more than 70 gunshot wounds all over, it was hard to determine which shot hit the elephant first.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga confirmed that the post-mortem had been completed and said the nature of the elephant's death was cruel.

Pygmy elephants are protected under Schedule 1 of the Wildlife Conservation Enactment 1997

Anyone found guilty of killing them could be jailed up to five years and charged with a fine of RM250,000.

According to the World Wildlife Fund (WWF), there are only about 1,500 surviving Borneo pygmy elephants. They are considered the smallest subspecies in size, only reaching a height of up to 3m.

The Borneo Post reported that pygmy elephants are regularly found dead in Borneo, adding to concern about their declining numbers.

Meanwhile, two caged sun bears in Kuching were rescued last week:

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