Orphaned pygmy elephant calf still fighting on

KOTA KINABALU - Joe, the three-month-old Borneo pygmy elephant calf that survived a poisoning that kill 14 members of its herd, is proving to be a fighter.

The calf looks set to survive as he has begun to increase his intake of infant formula milk while getting used to his new home at the Lok Kawi Zoo here since Jan 26.

"Joe is adapting to his new home and drinking more milk. We believe he is on the path to surviving his ordeal," said Sabah Wildlife Department director Datuk Dr Laurentius Ambu.

He said they were also getting a lot of support from elephant experts both locally and internationally to help in the care of the calf that is still under quarantine at the zoo as veterinarians await report on the cause of death of its mother and 13 other elephants.

Joe was found nudging his dead mother on a path close to a logging operation at Yayasan Sabah's Forest Management Unit 23 in the Gunung Rara forest reserve on Jan 25.

Wildlife officials had gone into the area to investigate the mysterious deaths that was first discovered on Dec 29.

The department's Wildlife Rescue Unit veterinarian Dr Diana Raminez said they had found the right formula milk for Joe.

"We added fibres and vitamins. His appetite is improving and he is taking more milk. We are hoping that it will increase to the normal level (of about 30 litres) of consumption daily," she said, adding that Joe was just taking more than half the needed amount now.

"He is getting active. General signs are normal but we have to continue observing him," she said, adding that he did not suffer from diarrhoea.

Wildlife rangers are continuing their check of the area in the forest reserve for the possibility of more dead elephants while also searching for the source of the poisoning, which could possibly be some form of chemical pesticides.

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