News24

Dying elephant calf rescued

2010-05-24 16:29

Kuala Lumpur - Malaysian wildlife authorities said on Monday they had rescued an endangered Borneo Pygmy elephant calf that had been separated from its mother and found dying in a plantation.

The six-month-old elephant was weak and dehydrated when found last week after plantation workers alerted the wildlife department in eastern Sabah state, on Borneo island, its chief veterinarian Sen Nathan said.

He said the calf was lost in the plantation for at least three days before it was rescued.

"A calf relies entirely on the mother and if it is not fed for that long, this would have normally killed the elephant," he said.

"Its condition was bad, and it could have died from dehydration," Nathan said, adding an elephant was only capable of looking after itself after it turned three.

"It refused to drink the formula milk we fed during the first 24 hours, but now it has gotten used to it and is drinking from the bottle. Its condition has stabilised and it is recovering," he added.

Pygmy elephants are unique to Borneo and form a sub-species of the Asian elephant. It has a rounded appearance and males stand only about 2.5 metres tall, compared to about three metres for mainland Asian elephants.

Authorities said the elephant species is considered endangered, with around 1 500 - 2 000 left on Borneo island.

Wildlife activists have warned that Borneo Pygmy elephants are fast losing their natural habitat to deforestation and human encroachment following a two-year satellite tracking study in 2007.