Call for full inquiry into death of elephant handler

Wildlife ranger Joe Fred Lansou who was gored by an elephant at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park.

KOTA KINABALU (Dec 26): The State government has been urged to conduct a full inquiry into what triggered an elephant to gore its handler to death at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park on Sunday.

Local social and environmental activist Jefferi Chang who made the call on Monday, said he had brought up complaints about the poor upkeep of the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park and its exhibits that have surfaced many times in the past.

“I believe the space in the wildlife park may not be enough for these elephants. They will be stressed with their movements restricted. This makes them unpredictable.

“They need to look into whether it is suitable to keep the elephants within the zoo enclosure or send them back to wildlife areas or even the Borneo Elephant Sanctuary,” he said.

Chang stressed a check on whether the wildlife park management under Sabah Wildlife Department had safeguards in place for its personnel to handle wild animals.

He also pushed for an inspection on whether the management has an active and clearly observed standard operating procedure in place.

“We have the death of a ranger now. We cannot take these things lightly. Such incidents are rare in zoos across the world.

“The Sabah Wildlife Department has to be answerable for what has happened at the Lok Kawi Wildlife Park,” he said.

Joe Fred Lansou, 49, succumbed to injuries after a Borneo Pygmy elephant gored his chest and abdomen at around 8.30am. He was pronounced dead at the scene.

Sabah Wildlife Department director Augustine Tuuga said police are still investigating the incident.

Penampang district police chief Deputy Supt Mohd Haris Ibrahim said the victim was treating an injured calf when the elephant tusked him.

Police have classified the case as sudden death and ruled out any foul play.

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