Kuala Lumpur (AsiaNews/Agencies) - Malaysian authorities are offering a US$ 16,000 reward for information on the death of 14 rare Borneo pygmy elephants last month, if it is confirmed they were poisoned. Masidi Manjun, Tourism, Culture and Environment minister for the State of Sabah, on the island of Borneo, said the authorities hoped the reward would help them get new leads on the affair.
"There is a reward of 50,000 ringgit for information leading to the arrest, prosecution and conviction of the alleged culprits if the chemist report confirms that death was due to intentional poisoning," he said.
The report is due for release Friday, a fortnight after eight elephants were found dead near an oil palm plantation, he added
Meanwhile, nature officials are trying to save a three-month-old calf, poignantly photographed (pictured) nuzzling its dead mother and now staying in a wildlife park.
Officials believe the pachyderms-an endangered species-may have been poisoned, possibly by something left by workers at nearby plantations to deter them from eating the palm fruit.
WWF-Malaysia blamed the deaths on rampant deforestation by planters, which has forced elephants to find alternative food and space, which has put them on a collision course with humans.
The group estimates that only about 1,200 Borneo pygmy elephants, which are smaller and have more rounded features than full-sized Asian elephants, are left in the wild.