Four elephants get new home at elephant sanctuary in Sabah

Article from The Star newspaper - 24 May 2021

WRU Elephants exploring their new home

"KOTA KINABALU: Four Bornean pygmy elephants were transferred to their new home at Bornean Elephant Sanctuary (BES) in Kinabatangan last week, a wildlife refuge with better facilities and bigger roaming space.

The four were rescued between 2015 and 2016 and previously placed under the wildlife care centre located at Sepilok Orangutan Rehabilitation Centre (SORC) and were relocated in phases on Thursday (May 20) and Saturday (May 22).

This brings the total of elephants at the sanctuary to seven - one female and the rest males - consisting of juvenile, sub-adult and adult elephants, said Sabah Wildlife Department (SWD) director Augustine Tuuga.

WRU Elephant having a swim

“Budak was found wandering alone by plantation workers in Kinabatangan, while Adun was rescued in Telupid when it fell into a pond with its herd nowhere to be sighted.

“Dumpas was found in Tawau by the roadside separated from its herd, whereas Danum was found wandering along Jalan Danum for the past two weeks in Lahad Datu before the Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) was contacted, ” he told The Star.

The elephants were each placed in a transfer crate, which was then lifted by a crane and loaded onto a lorry, where the 77-kilometre journey from SORC in Sandakan to BES took an hour and 30 minutes, he added.

Meanwhile SWD assistant director Dr Sen Nathan, who is WRU manager, said the elephants were receptive to exploring their new surroundings at BES.

Asked why it took time for them to transfer the elephants to BES, he explained there was a two-year delay in the construction of the large outdoor paddock due to various reasons.

“The facilities at the BES are still under construction and renovation. To date, it can accommodate at least eight to nine staff with manageable offices and enclosures for the current seven elephants in captivity.

“Many upgrades and planning for the best needs of the husbandry and elephant care are still in progress.

“But yes, BES will be upgraded with an elephant clinic, staff quarters, more exhibit enclosures, planting of elephant food and napier grass cultivation programme.

“There will be a library and visiting areas for local and foreign visitors (in the future), ” he added.

Initiated by SWD and the state-mandated NGO Borneo Conservation Trust (BCT), BES was first launched in 2013 as a refuge for the endangered elephants, has Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) and Borneo Conservation Trust Japan (BCTJ) as its major and prime funders, besides the Federal and state governments.

United States’ Oregon Zoo and wildlife British NGO Orangutan Appeal UK, have also made contributions that went to staff salaries and medical costs for the upkeep of the elephants there, Sen added.

The area is approximately 1,214 hectares, with the built-up area for BES at about 25ha.

Sen said at present, the three elephants that have been there longer get to roam outside with supervision of the mahouts, while the four that have just been transferred are placed in the three-acre (1.21ha) paddock." ENDS

You can read the article on The Star website here