Elephants may have ingested poisons by mistake – Borneo Rhino Alliance

KOTA KINABALU: The poignant high-impact nature of the photos of the dead elephants has resulted in natural response that is immediate and emotional, rather than long-term and measured.

“Attention has focused on what caused the elephants to die and who was responsible. Eating something toxic seems likely,” said Borneo Rhino Alliance executive director Datuk Dr Junaidi Payne when contacted yesterday.

“If people want to get rid of elephants for whatever reason, such as destroying crops, then poisoning has appeal. No need for firearms. But toxins may be used to kill pest animals such as pigs and rats, and ingested by mistake by elephants. Some very simple chemicals, not intended for harmful purposes, can be toxic,” he said.

“If the cause of these recent deaths does turn out to be a man-made toxin, then this does point to a need for better voluntary, legal and operational control of the use of all toxic substances at all levels of society.”

He added that in the bigger picture, the long-term pattern of forests, plantations and other land use where elephants occur was now stabilizing.

“Elephants will continue to reproduce in a limited habitat. What happens to the extra elephants? There is no simple solution, and elephants will always remain a big challenge for wildlife managers.”

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