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Jakarta Post

Elephant poaching in TNBBS probed

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Bandar lampung   /   Wed, September 23, 2015   /  03:05 pm

The management at the South Bukit Barisan National Park (TNBBS) in Lampung has launched an investigation into the killing of Yongki, a tame Sumatran elephant that was found dead recently with his ivory tusks missing.

In a written statement, TNBBS Center head Timbul Batubara said the 35-year-old male elephant, which had been a member of the park'€™s elephant patrol team over the past several years, had been found dead on Friday at 7:30 a.m. local time with severe wounds found at the base of his missing two tusks.

Yongki'€™s body, according to Timbul, was discovered just 300 meters behind his patrol camp in Pemerihan, West Pesisir regency, which is situated some 120 kilometers northwest of the provincial capital of Bandar Lampung.

'€œThere are indications that the elephant was killed,'€ Timbul said, as quoted by Antara news agency on Tuesday.

The center'€™s provisional investigation, according to Timbul, found no gunshot wounds in Yongki'€™s body. Apart from a suspiciously bluish tongue, Yongki'€™s mouth also showed no trace of foam that might indicate poisoning.

Yongki'€™s internal organs, meanwhile, looked normal despite the finding of a colon infection caused by a paramphistomum parasite worm.

'€œThis [killing] case is now under investigation,'€ he said.

Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Indonesia recently revealed that the elephant population in Sumatra had continued to decline over the past decade mainly because of poaching, particularly in Riau, Aceh and North Sumatra.

WCS said the population of Sumatran elephants was currently no higher than 1,000, or 69 percent lower than that of 25 years ago.

The decrease in the population of Sumatran elephants has caused the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to list the species as endangered.

Indonesian Mahout Forum chairman Nazarudin, who helped captured Yongki in the wildlife, said the elephant and his herd used to attack crop fields belonging to local residents in West Lampung regency.

'€œIn 1994, we managed to capture him and several of his friends who lagged behind their herd after storming a crop field,'€ he said, as quoted by kompas.com.

Yongki was later trained to become a patrol elephant, whose main duty was to anticipate wild elephant attacks on human beings in an effort to prevent deadly conflicts.

After several years patrolling in the Way Kambas National Park area, also in Lampung, Yongki was transferred in 2009 to the TNBBL area. In his new patrol camp, Yongki lived with four male elephants '€” Karnangin, Renggo, Tomi and Sampot '€” and a female elephant named Arni.

Nazarudin, who works in Way Kambas, said Yongki was among just a few patrol elephants able find traces of wild elephants. Yongki was also able to help park officers find their way back home after conducting a patrol in the heart of a forest.

'€œI have lost count of how many times Yongki was involved in our conflict prevention operations,'€ Nazarudin said. '€œ[His involvement] helped reduce the number of elephants killed by humans.'€

Yongki'€™s killing has also sparked anger among netizens. On Tuesday, Twitter, for example, reported that the hashtag #RIPYongki had become a trending topic in Indonesia.

'€œIt is a very sad story to hear #RIPYongki,'€ said humanitarian worker Syamsul Ardiansyah on his Twitter account on Tuesday.

Budhi Astika, another Twitter-user, also shared his condolences.

'€œ#RIPYongki. Thank you for your service. Now you live in the safest place,'€ he said.

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