KOTA KINABALU - Villagers at Kampung Binuang Lahad Datu, some 420km from the state capital, had a surprise when a herd of elephants, including a calf, emerged from an oil palm estate and crossed the road.
A short videoclip of the elephants could be seen on social media, with scenes of drivers and villagers stopping to make way for the animals during the incident on Friday.
Sabah Wildlife Department director William Baya said they were informed about the presence of elephants at about 5pm and immediately sent a team of rangers to monitor the situation.
The elephants were from a herd of about 27 individuals, and had emerged from the estate and were making their way up east towards the Tabin Wildlife Reserve.
"The elephants did some damage to oil palm trees and banana crops belonging to smallholders. They are retreating towards the reserve," he said on Saturday.
"Our rangers have been working to keep the animals at bay in order to prevent or minimise damage to crops and properties," he added.
However, Baya said the Wildlife Department could not assist in managing the conflicts or initiating translocation of the elephants due to insufficient funds.
So far, there have been no reports of injury due to the presence of the animals.
Reports of the presence and sightings of elephants have become more frequent compared to several years ago due to land development and reduction in the animals' habitat.