KOTA KINABALU: A unique Bornean bull elephant with its tusks pointing backwards is causing a stir among wildlife rangers sent to translocate it from a plantation in Sabah’s east coast.
The Wildlife Department’s Wildlife Rescue Unit (WRU) rangers spotted the 20-year-bull elephant near the Felda Umas plantation in Tawau Thursday.
Department assistant director Dr Sen Nathan said it was only the second such elephant he had seen with tasks pointing backwards.
“It’s very unusual,” he said, adding that the elephant could be part of a herd from central Sabah that eventually moved towards the east coast.
Wildlife officials are discussing with other experts about the possible cause of the unusual tusks, including in-breeding.
Dr Sen said the bull elephant is among three pachyderms that the WRU is translocating from the plantation to an undisclosed location.
Department director William Baya said human-elephant conflicts have been on the increase in recent years at elephant habitat areas in the central and south eastern parts of Sabah, including Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Beluran, Lahad Datu, Tawau, Nabawan and Pensiangan.
Coupled with a probable increase in elephant population, this will further increase the fragmentation and nett loss of suitable elephant habitats, he added.
A 2008 survey showed that the Sabah elephant population stood at 2,000 heads.
He said translocating the elephants is not a permanent solution because there have been instances when some animals that were moved made their way back to cause more conflict in the area where they were caught.