Malaysia's rescued baby pygmy elephant dies: minister

KUALA LUMPUR, June 20, 2010 (AFP) - An endangered pygmy elephant calf that was rescued on Borneo island early this month has died, a minister said Sunday.

Masidi Manjun, eastern Sabah-state tourism, culture and environment minister said the two-year-old female calf died from severe internal bleeding.

On June 4, the wildlife rescue unit saved the highly dehydrated pygmy elephant from a moat at an oil palm estate. She was one of two calves found starving in Sabah.

 "The lesson we learn from this tragedy is that the best place for the animal to survive is in its natural habitat and not in human captivation," Masidi said.

Pygmy elephants on Borneo form a sub-species of the Asian elephant. The creatures have a rounded appearance and are smaller than their mainland cousins.

Authorities say there are around 1,500-2,000 left on Borneo island.

Wildlife activists have warned that Borneo Pygmy elephants are fast losing their natural habitat to deforestation and human encroachment.