Indonesia: 2 Sumatran elephants found dead in Aceh

Associated Press Jakarta Post 15 Oct 15;

Two endangered Sumatran elephants have been found dead in Aceh province and are believed to have been poisoned.

The head of the local Conservation and Natural Resources Agency, Genman Suhefti Hasibuan, says Thursday the carcasses were discovered by locals in a forest about 7 kilometers from their village in Aceh's Jaya district.

The two females, 2 years and 15 years of age, were estimated to have died two or three days before they were found on Wednesday, Hasibuan said. He added that there were no indications of violence or gunshot wounds on the carcasses.

The agency will investigate the deaths in cooperation with the police.

At least five Sumatran elephants have been found dead this year in Aceh, after 11 deaths last year.

Poisoning Suspected in Deaths of Two Sumatran Elephants
Jakarta Globe 16 Oct 15;

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.

Authorities on alert after 2 elephants found dead in Aceh
The Jakarta Post 17 Oct 15;

Local authorities and law enforcers are investigating the recent death of two Sumatran elephants in Aceh Jaya regency, Aceh, after their preliminary investigation suggested that the endangered animals died from poisoning.

Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) head Genman Suhefti Hasibuan said the agency’s examination team had found blood flowing from the mouth and anus of the two female elephants, which were found dead on Wednesday by residents in Panggong subdistrict, Krueng Sabee district.

“These are strong indications that the elephants have died because of poisoning,” Genman said on Thursday as quoted by

The agency’s team, which consists of a veterinarian, mahouts and forest rangers, has also collected samples from the animals’ organs.

“The samples will be sent to the National Police’s forensic laboratory for follow-up examinations and legal purposes,” Genman said, adding that the team had not found any wounds on the elephants.

The bodies of the two elephants, which were 15 and 2 years of age, were lying some 10 meters apart from one another.

With the discovery of these latest two cases, the agency has recorded five deaths this year of Sumatran elephants that died in suspicious circumstances.

The agency, Genman added, had reported the case to local police for further investigation.

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

WCS said the population of Sumatran elephants was currently no larger than 1,000 animals, or 69 percent lower than 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.

Last month, law enforcers in Lampung launched an investigation into the killing of Yongki, a tame Sumatran elephant that was found dead at the South Bukit Barisan National Park (TNBBS).

The 35-year-old male elephant had been found with severe wounds at the base of his missing two tusks.

TNBBS head Timbul Batubara said Yongki’s body had been 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.

Speaking to reporters on Thursday, Lampung Police special criminal investigation directorate head Sr. Comr. Dicky Patria Negara said the police had so far interrogated 20 witnesses in the case.

The police, he said, believed that Yongki’s tusks had been shipped out of the province to the illegal market overseas.

“Our focus now is on looking for the suspects. It is clear that there are more than two people [involved in the murder],” he was quoted as saying by Antara news agency.

Apart from the struggle to survive illegal poaching, Sumatran elephants have seen their continued survival at risk, with many babies dying over the past three years from Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV).

The North Sumatra-based Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC), for example, reported that the EEHV virus had killed five young elephants in Way Kambas, Lampung, in 2012 and four others between October last year and February. Another calf died in Aceh in February.

“While adult elephants can survive EEHV attacks, many calves have died [because of EEHV]. The virus is threatening their population,” Muhammad Wahyu of VESSWIC recently said.

EEHV-infected elephants, according to Wahyu, suffer from lower immunity, swollen faces and blue tongues.