The Jakarta Post
A female elephant was found dead at the Balai Raja wildlife conservation area in Pinggir district, Bengkalis regency, Riau on Monday.
Examination of the physical conditions of the remains led to the conclusion the animal was Dita, one of the wild elephants of the wildlife conservation area. A local team is now working to determine the cause of her death.
Riau Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA) head Suharyono said the carcass was discovered by locals in a pool of water in the middle of some bushes.
After learning of the finding, environmental activists reported it to the BKSDA, which sent a team from the Sebanga Elephant Training Center to the site.
“The carcass was decaying. Its belly was wide open. It was estimated the elephant had died five days ago,” Suharyono told journalists on Monday.
According to him, the elephant was estimated to have been 25 years old. Its left front leg was disabled.
The team believes the elephant was Dita, whose left front foot was cut off when the elephant was first found in 2014, unable to move in the jungle because it was trapped.
“Learning its physical condition, the team believes the elephant was Dita. Only Dita the elephant has such a characteristic,” he said.
Given its wound, the elephant was too weak to walk.
Suharyono added that the medical team from BKSDA Riau and the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (Vesswic) had cured Dita’s foot several times.
“Two last medical treatments were conducted last year. She survived until she was found dead,” he said.
He added the team found no wounds on the body of the elephant. Neither did the team find signs of the elephant being attacked before its death.
“Most probably, the elephant died of sickness. It was a female elephant so she had no tusks. It is unlikely the elephant was targeted by hunters,” he said.
“To know the exact cause of death, BKSDA Riau will conduct a necropsy on the carcass,” he said.
Currently, there are still six wild elephants at the Balai Raja wildlife conservation area. Dita was known to be usually in the same group with Seruni and its child. “Other elephants live in different groups,” he said.
Bengkalis-based Rimba Satwa Foundation (RSF) coordinator Zulhusni said the carcass of the elephant was found near a vocational school, SMK 1 Pinggir.
The area for elephants to live at Balai Raja keeps decreasing because of land being converted into palm oil plantations and housing. “We lost Dita, one of the elephants at Balai Raja,” he said.
“The government needs to save Balai Raja so that elephants will not lose their place,” he added.