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Injured pygmy elephant nurtured to health released back into the wild

20th June, 2019

KOTA KINABALU: A seriously injured juvenile male pygmy elephant thought to be already dead in May has been nurtured to reasonable health and released back into the wild.

Though wildlife rangers are not completely sure it has fully recovered, they have high hopes it will survive and be reunited with its herd, the Star reported.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said the elephant was in bad shape when it was discovered at an estate in Sabah’s central Telupid district on May 22, and could not even stand.

He said the male elephant believed aged between five and eight, was immediately taken in for medical treatment. “When the elephant was found, he could not even stand, there was a huge hole on its back and, at that time, there was a serious infection,” he said when contacted by the Star on Wednesday.

Tuuga said after weeks of treatment and trying to get it to stand on its feet by putting it on a harness, the elephant got better.

“Our vets and rangers let it back into the wild on June 10 after the wounds healed. The last it was seen was on the 14th,” he said.

He added that when they released the elephant in the morning, a team of veterinarians and rangers tagged along behind to monitor on its condition.

“It collapsed once at about 12.30pm, and medical attention was given. A backhoe was sent to bring the elephant up on its feet,” Tuuga said.

He said once on its feet again, the elephant continued its journey deeper into the forest.

“We lost track of it for a while, but saw it at 3pm and 6pm,” he said, adding the elephant was feeding in the middle of oil palm trees when they last saw it.

He said their rangers could not locate it after that and believed it had found its herd as there are elephants roaming the area.

“Elephants are smart, they can detect or, rather, hear their herds from afar,” Tuuga said.

However, he said rangers and the assistant manager of the estate nearby have been told to keep an eye out for it.

“They will inform us if this elephant or any other elephants are sighted for any reasons,” he said adding that they hoped the mammal was doing fine.

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