Sabah authorities mull inquiry over ranger's death by elephant

KOTA KINABALU, Dec 30 ― The Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Ministry senior officials will reportedly look into whether there is a need to hold an inquiry into the incident where a ranger was gored to death by an elephant at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park here.

Minister Datuk Jafry Ariffin reportedly told The Star that they would have to discuss the matter with the concerned parties within the ministry.

He was asked to comment on calls by activities and social media users for the government to hold an inquiry into the fatal incident.

There were also calls for the state to look at the overall situation at the Lok Kawi Wildlife park for alleged poor management of the exhibits.

The wildlife park’s head of the elephant unit, Joe Fred Lansou, 49, was gored by an adult male elephant within its enclosure at about 8.30am on December 25.

Lansou was treating a calf elephant for an injury within the enclosure when it happened.

The adult elephant, named [email protected], was the sole survivor of a deadly poisoning incident that killed a herd of 14 Borneo pygmy elephants nine years ago. Kejora was a calf when it was taken in to be cared for at the wildlife park.

A social and environmental activist, Jefferi Chang, had urged the government to conduct a full inquiry into what triggered the adult Borneo Pygmy elephant to gore its handler to death.

He said an inquiry is needed to clarify if there were safeguards in place to protect its personnel when handling wild animals.

Architect Ho Ja Lit reportedly said it was not right to blame the elephant in the incident.

The architect, whose company was involved in designing the 55ha wildlife park, said the injured calf should have been taken out of the enclosure for treatment.

“It was not right at all to attend to a sick calf in front of an adult elephant because they might mistake the handler as trying to hurt the calf, especially if it was making distress calls during treatment,” he was quoted as saying.

He stressed that the jumbo should not be blamed for stepping in to protect the calf.

According to the Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga, there were only six staff members to handle 16 elephants in the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.

This is the first time a ranger was killed in an elephant attack in the department’s 34-year history.


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