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Perhilitan must explain Mardos fiasco

Even as I'm writing this, my heart is bleeding for baby elephant, Mardos, which was put down one day after Christmas last year. Finally, Mardos can find mercy in death which has been eluding him all his life among uncaring humans.

His story is so sad. He fell into a well and his mother presumably cried until she had no more tears, being helpless to get her baby out of the well. Imagine having to walk away from that well, it must have been the hardest thing she ever had to do.

To make matters worse, the staff of Malaysia's department of wildlife and national parks (Perhilitan) took this baby elephant they promptly called Mardos out of the well. Mardos was just three months old when he was found in the well. Since then he had been kept in Kuala Gandah Elephant Sanctuary in Lanchang Pahang, Malaysia.

Some sanctuary! Tourists complained that Mardos was just skin and bones. So Perhilitan took him back to its headquarters in Cheras, nursed Mardos back to health for three months and poor Mardos eventually found his way back to Kuala Gandah where he was poorly treated in the first place.

On July 1 as he was being transported to a school for a 'show', Mardos slipped on faeces at the back of the truck and fell injuring his knees. He was only taken to Universiti Putra Malaysia (UPM) veterinary hospital on Tuesday - two whole days after the accident. I cannot imagine how Perhilitan can allow a baby to suffer in pain like that and do nothing until Tuesday.

Many animal welfare groups called for Mardos to be euthanised immediately, but after Perhilitan's earlier blunder that killed another baby elephant, Mat Chepor, they were probably afraid of incurring the wrath of the public and tourists for losing another baby elephant so soon.

Perhaps that was why Mardos had to endure his suffering for six months before Perhilitan quietly put him down, probably during the holiday season, so no one would notice. Mardos was euthanised on Dec 26, 2006.

Even then they could not let him go with dignity. The press reported that Mardos' carcass was skinned 'to preserve his remains'. Why does an animal need to be skinned to preserve their remains? This is a ridiculous statement and we are left to wonder what is really going on within Perhilitan.

Due to the astonishing number of cases in Malaysia where animal body parts are sold on the black market, it is only right that Perhilitan clarifies why it was necessary to skin Mardos. What other parts of this poor baby was taken and used for what purpose? Many other disturbing issues raised over Mardos have not been addressed by Perhilitan. These issues are:

  • Why wasn't animal transfer protocol for transporting Mardos not followed?

  • Why did Perhilitan staff at Kuala Gandah wait for two days before seeking medical treatment for Mardos?
  • Why are baby elephants taken out for 'shows'? Isn't it enough that they are forced to 'entertain' people at a so-called sanctuary? If they are taken on road shows, then Kuala Gandah should call itself a circus, not a sanctuary.
  • Why did tourists complain Mardos was skin and bones at the Kuala Gandah sanctuary?
  • Malaysia is trying hard to lure tourists this year for Visit Malaysia Year 2007. The irony is that they are using photos and clips of our tropical rainforest, elephants, orang utans, etc, to lure them.

    What they are not telling the tourists are stories like Mardos and Mat Chepor. Stories about the endless drone of chainsaws cutting down a 130-million-year forest in Perak causing many baby elephants to be separated from their mothers as they run from loggers and chainsaws.

    Uncontrolled logging is going on all over Malaysia and Perhilitan is doing nothing about it.

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