SANDAKAN: The mud pool near the Berkat Saga Logging Camp in Rinukut, Tawau, in which five of the nine trapped elephants were killed last Saturday, is an old quarry.
Sabah Forestry Department Director Sam Mannan also confirmed that the spot was a forest restoration area under the department’s forest development programme.
He said the quarry was already there when the programme was implemented and the company appointed by the department to handle the programme left the area 15 years ago after work was completed.
“The quarry then became a source of water in the event of a fire in the area. Over the years, it turned into a deep mud pool.
“The elephants might have gone into the pool to bathe and cool their bodies but could not get out,” he said when met at the opening of the 8th Borneo Bird Festival by Assistant State Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Pang Nyuk Ming at the Rainforest Discovery Centre in Sepilok near here Thursday.
He said this in response to a report that five of the nine elephants were found dead after being trapped in the mud pool last Saturday. Another two were euthanised as they had become too weak, dehydrated and blind.
Pang said the Sabah Wildlife Department had been ordered to conduct an in-depth investigation into the matter and submit a report to Sabah Tourism, Culture and Environment Minister Masidi Manjun.
According to Pang, the report would also contain details on matters that contributed to the incident and action to be taken to prevent a recurrence.
He said the incident indicated that there was a lot of room for improvement in the conservation of wildlife, especially pygmy elephants, in the state.