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Jakarta Post

Wild Sumatran elephants likely poisoned

  • Rizal Harahap

    The Jakarta Post

Pekanbaru   /   Sat, June 8, 2013   /  09:58 am

It is suspected that the two wild Sumatran elephants found dead at the Tesso Nilo National Park (TNTN) in Pelalawan regency, Riau, recently, were poisoned.

TNTN chief Kupin Simbolon said on Monday the carcasses of the two elephants were found near each other on May 31, when forest rangers and World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Riau members conducted a routine patrol to monitor elephant movement.

'€œOne was a male aged around five years old and the other was a female aged above 20 years old,'€ Kupin said.

TNTN is home to two different elephant herds, one in the southeastern and the other in the northern part of the park. Kupin could not identify what herd the two dead elephants belonged to.

'€œIt is likely they were from the same herd because young elephants don'€™t live alone. The the two carcasses were not far apart around one kilometer,'€ he said.

Forest rangers took the tusks of the young male elephant to the TNTN office in Pangkalan Kerinci, the seat of Pelalawan.

'€œThe situation is alarming. I promise to prevent it from continuing. I will send a stern warning to all parties, including the plantations around TNTN because they don'€™t care about the conservation of protected wildlife. The plantations can not shirk responsibility,'€ he said.

Kupin shared his belief that the elephants died of poisoning because the team found a number of suspicious objects.

'€œThey did not die of natural causes. However, the exact cause of death must be investigated. Their vital organs will be analyzed at the veterinary labs in Bukit Tinggai, West Sumatra, and Bogor, West Java,'€ said Kupin.

WWF Riau spokeswoman Syamsidar agreed the elephants were likely poisoned.

'€œWe assume the elephants were trying to find water to neutralize the ingested toxin, but they became too weak,'€ she told The Jakarta Post.

The assumption was strengthened by the fact that the elephants were found in the same vicinity as three other poisoned elephants in November.

'€œThe 55-cm long tusks of the younger male elephant were intact, indicating the elephants were not victims of poachers,'€ she added.

Weak law enforcement, according to Syamsidar, caused farmers and plantations to poison elephants, which are regarded as pests.

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