Malaysia seeks more tests for dead pygmy elephantsThe Associated Press | February 09,2013KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia — An initial chemical analysis on 14 Borneo pygmy elephants that died mysteriously could not conclusively determine if they were poisoned, and more tests will be conducted abroad, an official said Friday.
The endangered elephants were found dead last month in a protected forest in Sabah state on Borneo. Sabah is home to most of the remaining 1,200 Borneo pygmy elephants that exist worldwide. The elephants are feared to have been poisoned because they encroached on Malaysian plantations.
Sabah Environment Minister Masidi Manjun said the state’s wildlife department would send samples to forensic testing facilities in Thailand and Australia for more comprehensive tests to determine the cause of the elephants’ deaths.
“To ensure greater transparency of the entire issue, my ministry will be seeking a second opinion from other laboratories,” he said in a statement.
Samples will be sent immediately to the Ramathibodi Poison Center at Thailand’s Mahidol University and the chemistry lab of the Queensland Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry in Australia, he said.
Masidi said he had also directed the state’s chemistry department to expand its scope of tests on more possible chemical contaminants. Department veterinarians have said the elephants suffered severe bleeding and gastrointestinal ulcers.
The wildlife group WWF said last week that the dead elephants were found in areas being converted for plantations within permanent forest reserves, raising the prospect that they were deliberately killed by humans taking over their habitat.
Sabah, one of two Malaysian states on Borneo island, is home to endangered animals including the pygmy elephant, Sumatran rhinoceros and orangutan. Wildlife activists say their numbers have dwindled in recent decades because of illegal poaching and the loss of jungles cut down for timber and development.
Some 60 percent of Sabah is currently under forest cover, but activists say the deforestation rate is rising, with large forest areas slated for conversion to farmland or timber concession.
Masidi said police were in the midst of a very thorough investigation, including probing plantations and logging companies within the vicinity where the dead elephants were found. Two palm oil plantations and a logging company operate in the area.
“I hope people would refrain from jumping to conclusions at this point of time and wait until the case is fully investigated to avoid innocent parties being unfairly implicated,” he said.MORE IN Wire News
- Most Popular
- Most Emailed
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: No money this year for western rail project, Lola Aiken memorialized in Montpelier, Supreme Court Castleton murder suspect will remain in jail, Shaftbury man fires shots from his AK-47 into neighbor's home.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: On this day in 1959, Soviet Premier Nikita S. Khrushchev arrives in U.S. for historic 13-day visit; in 1987, Secretary of State George Shultz and Soviet Foreign Minister Eduard Shevardnadze sign nuclear reduction agreement.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: City celebrates completion of its newest mural, on West Street opposite the post office, more than $2 million in federal grants will bolster Vermont's health centers, Patrick McArdle reports on pending sale of Vermont papers.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: Henry Hudson sails up the Hudson River as far as present-day Albany, Leo Szilard has epiphany waiting for the light to change, 3 kids report a West Virginia close encounter in 1952.
- TOMORROW'S HEADLINES TODAY: Who will run for mayor in Rutland next year? Has Bennington overcome its fear of twerking? Documentary 'Hungry Heart' packs the Paramount, and the city's Creek Path scores another million-plus dollars.
- RICHARD'S POOR ALMANACK: The 1509 'Lesser Judgment' earthquake on this day at Constantinople kills 13,000 and destroys the city; in 1801, on this day, Marie Laveau, the Voodoo Queen of New Orleans is born.