TELUPID: A woman escaped death due to her husband’s scream during an elephant rampage here yesterday.
She was charged by a wild Borneo pygmy elephant of three metres height at Kg. Gambaron, two kilometers from Telupid town.
The victim, Justina Ompang, 57, received light injury on her waist due to being whipped by the elephant’s trunk. She was sent to Telupid Hospital for emergency and trauma treatment. Her husband, Khunyan Basimah, 40, was uninjured.
A thorough check up deemed the victim without internal injuries, and was permitted to go home the same day.
According to Khunyan, the incident happened when they were going to work at 6.20am. The weather was foggy when they encountered the wild elephant at the roadside.
Normally the elephant would flee to the jungle when approached by villagers, however that morning it attacked the couple and hit Justina with its trunk, he added.
The husband’s shout stopped the elephant from attacking further and it instead ran to nearby jungle.
Sabah Wildlife Department (JHLS) Assistant Director, Dr. Sen Nathan, said serious conflict between elephants and human occurred in several villages around Telupid, which are Kg. Bauto, Luang Batu, Maliau, and Gambaron for the last two months.
“More than 30 elephants in four different groups have caused serious damages to the villagers’ crops and vehicles. JHLS Rescue Team has done its best in Elephant Control Operation to drive the elephants back into the forest, and protecting the villagers.”
“With the recent development, Elephant Capture and Trans-location Operation will be deployed. This will include high costs of operation, where capture and trans-location cost for a single elephant is RM20,000 to RM30,000.
“This move must be implemented for villagers safety. The real cause of this problem has to be studied, or these elephants will definitely return to the conflict zone,” he said in his statement, here today.
Meanwhile, JHLS Director, William Baya, said in the past few years conflicts between human and elephants has increased drastically in most of the middle and eastern region of elephants habitat in Sabah, covering Sandakan, Kinabatangan, Beluran, Lahad Datu, Tawau, Nabawan, and Pensiangan.
“We believe that the increasing conflict is due to fragmentation and loss of suitable habitat, added with the rising elephants population in Sabah.”
“Based on studies carried out in 2008, there are 2,000 elephants in Sabah. We need to find a solution for this problem with a more systematic management for the existing elephants populations, and its habitat,” he said.
William also said that the trans-location of elephants from a conflict zone is not the ultimate solution, following the documentation of evidence where a same group or single elephant will return to the conflict zone and cause more damages and disturbance in the area.
In this regard, JHLS will collaborate with related agencies such as Sabah Forestry Department and several NGOs to find the best solution for this issue. – SayangSabah