Curiously, though, it’s not known why exactly Sabre’s tusks pointed in the opposite direction. Still, his appearance was noted to be similar to that of a Deinotherium. Those prehistoric elephants also had backwards tusks; the ancient pachyderms, however, had become extinct 2.5 million years ago.
“This is a rare find, but [every elephant is] unique on its own,” Dr. Sen Nathan, Sabah Wildlife Department assistant director, told New Straits Times in 2016. As Bornean pygmy elephants are also considered endangered by the IUCN, however, Sabre needed protection. And as a result, the decision was made to transport him from the palm oil plantation where he was found to a safe forest.
Sabre’s move was a wise one, as elephants in this area face many threats. The biggest problem these gentle giants face is the growing human population, which in turn has caused major habitat loss, food depletion and fragmentation. On top of this, ivory poachers often hunt the animals.