Thursday, April 05, 2012

Borneo Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary hits snag

THE Borneo Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary, which was expected to be ready by the middle of the year for the Borneo Pygmy elephants and other wildlife driven from their habitat, has hit a snag.

There is a shortage of experts to train the elephants.

In fact, there is only one specialist in the state.

He is Sabah Wildlife Department's elephant trainer Jibius Dausip, who is now tasked with recruiting and training mahouts.

Jibius, 48, from Tambunan, who had more than 20 years experience taking care of elephants, said he had seen many of his peers give up their careers as mahouts because it took a lot of sacrifice and dedication.

A mahout needs years of training and is expected to spend long periods away from his family while staying in the remote wilds of Sabah, including at wildlife reserves such as Tabin in Lahad Datu.

While training was mainly done with the elephants rehabilitated at Lok Kawi Wildlife Park, Jibius said the job went beyond normal working hours as he resided in the Park, always on standby in case of emergencies.

"Elephants are huge but shy creatures and not everyone can handle them.

"That is why you need to create a special bond with each individual elephant.

"This, of course, requires spending a lot of time together.

"I guess I am still in this business because I love working with elephants," said Jibius, who was trained in Thailand and Europe before coming home to Sabah to help train the locals.

Sabah Wildlife Department senior veterinarian Dr Sen Nathan, who is also officer in charge of Lok Kawi Wildfire Park, said there were three full-fledged mahouts and five mahouts-in-training.

Continue reading (Incl. Pic) at: Borneo Elephant Wildlife Sanctuary hits snag

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