Fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants remain in the wild. (AFP Photo/Chaideer Mahyuddin)

Poisoning Suspected in Deaths of Two Sumatran Elephants

BY :JAKARTA GLOBE

OCTOBER 16, 2015

Jakarta. Wildlife conservation officials in Indonesia’s Aceh province have launched an investigation into the deaths of two Sumatran elephants whose bodies were found near a residential area in Aceh Jaya district on Wednesday.

“We suspect they died from poisoning,” Genman Suhefti, the head of the provincial conservation agency, or BKSDA, said on Thursday as quoted by Tempo.

Officials have taken tissue samples from the elephants, believed to be aged two and 15 years. Genman said there were no gunshot wounds or other physical lacerations that would indicate they were beaten to death, making poisoning the likeliest cause of death.

This method is commonly used in Aceh to kill elephants, seen by farmers as pests and targeted by poachers for their tusks.

The latest deaths add to the mounting list of elephant killings in Sumatra, and in particular in Aceh province, in recent years.

In September, a popular bull elephant named Yongki was found dead with his tusks hacked off inside the ostensibly protected Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park, which straddles the southern Sumatran provinces of Lampung, Bengkulu and South Sumatra.

The 34-year-old animal was recognizable for his unusually large tusks, and was often used by park rangers in their anti-poaching patrols, joining other elephants herded together for the task.

There are believed to be fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants left in the wild. The International Union for Conservation of Nature lists the species as critically endangered, or just a step away from extinction.

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