A wild elephant suffered for several hours before it died after it was reportedly poisoned on a palm oil plantation in Krueng Layeun village, Aceh Jaya, Aceh, on Monday, a witness says.
“We watched the elephant staggering as it walked before it collapsed,” Muktar, a forest ranger, said.
Aceh Conservation Response Unit (CRU) coordinator Fendra said that local residents were likely to blame for the death.
“Residents did not report the presence of the dead elephant when it was destroying their farms.
We believe the presence of the elephant was never reported because residents wanted to kill it
The female elephant, estimated to be 20 years old, left behind a 3-year-old calf, which was found near its mother’s carcass. “The calf was saddened by its mother’s death. It often approached its dead mother trying to wake her up,” Muktar said.
The elephant was found dead on a privately owned oil palm plantation near a protected forest and a path frequently used by elephants.
“The area is apparently known as a wild elephant path in Aceh Jaya. Consequently, the elephants often rummage through residents’ farms,” said Muktar.
“As far as I know, around 40 wild elephants can be found in Aceh Jaya. They are always rummaging around the area to look for food. At times, the elephants converge on residents’ farms, as their habitats have been converted into farms,” Muktar said.
The Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA), which sponsors the CRU, has conducted an autopsy and several veterinarians have taken samples, according to Fendra.
“The autopsy results will be sent to the lab in Medan to make sure of the cause of death.”
Elephant poisonings were rare, Fendra said. Residents whose farms have been damaged by elephants usually contacted the CRU to remove the elephants using rangers riding domesticated elephants.
Rangers often received reports of elephants injured by traps laid by local residents in Aceh Jaya, Fendra said, but lacked evidence to file reports with the police.
The CRU program is aimed at minimizing conflicts between wild elephants and humans that have increased due to the rapid pace of deforestation and forest conversions to make way for oil palm plantations.