KOTA KINABALU, Jan 9 (Bernama) — A sanctuary for the rehabilitation of rescued Borneo pygmy elephants is expected to be operational in the middle of this year.
Sabah Wildlife Director Dr Laurentius Ambu said 2,000 hectares of land has been reserved for the sanctuary, known as the Borneo Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary, in Kinabatangan.
“We do not intend to house all the (rescued) elephants there. We will keep the animals there for treatment and then we will release them back into the wild,” he told reporters after the opening of the Sabah Wildlife Conservation Colloquium 2012 here Monday.
The colloquium was opened by Plantation Industries and Commodities Minister Tan Sri Bernard Dompok.
Ambu said 20 elephants initially would be housed for treatment and rehabilitation once the sanctuary is operational.
He said there are 60 to 100 elephants of the pygmy species to be located and rescued using satellite tracking.
Pygmy elephants, a smaller kind of the elephant species, are considered endangered, with about 2,000 left in Sabah.
The sanctuary, to be operated by the Sabah Wildlife Department and the Malaysian Palm Oil Council, will consist of a rescue facility and a research and education division.
Dompok has urged the Malaysian oil palm industry to collaborate with the state government in implementing the Species Action Plan, particularly for the conservation and rehabilitation of Sabah’s three iconic species — the orang utan, the Borneo pygmy elephant and the Sumatran rhinoceros.
“I am optimistic that, with the cooperation of all the parties, the oil palm industry can co-exist in a sustainable manner with the environment, particularly in Sabah,” he said.