|Borneo pygmy elephant fatalities hit 14
A fourteenth rare Borneo pygmy elephant has been found dead of suspected poisoning, Malaysian officials said, the latest in a series of fatalities that has shaken conservation efforts.
The decomposed remains of the latest known victim were located yesterday, said Laurentius Ambu, director of the wildlife department in the Malaysian state of Sabah on Borneo island, AFP reports.
Officials believe the animals may have been poisoned, possibly by substances left out by workers at nearby oil palm plantations to deter the animals from eating their palm fruit.
State officials have released photos of the original 10 pachyderms found dead, including one of the orphan and its dead mother.
A chemists' report would be completed next week and could reveal what killed them. Poisoning is suspected due to severe ulceration and bleeding in the animals' digestive tracts.
Dozens of wildlife officials, police and other personnel have been dispatched to comb through the Gunung Rara reserve, where the carcasses have been found, for other possible victims.
WWF-Malaysia in a statement blamed the deaths on rampant felling of forests by planters, which had forced elephants to find alternative food and space and put them in conflict with humans.
The group says only about 1,200 Borneo pygmy elephants, which are smaller and have more rounded features than full-sized Asian elephants, are estimated to be left in the wild.