Endangered Sumatran elephant found decapitated in Indonesia

Sumatran elephant is found decapitated with its tusks ripped off after Indonesian poachers kill member of the critically endangered subspecies

  • Rotting corpse of the 40-year-old male elephant was discovered in an Indonesian plantation on Monday
  • Poachers had decapitated Sumatran elephant’s head and trunk before removing the giant animal’s tusks 
  • There are fewer than 2,000 of the critically endangered subspecies left in the wild 

A Sumatran elephant was found decapitated with its tusks ripped off in an apparent poaching of the critically endangered subspecies, an Indonesian conservation official said.

The rotting corpse of the 40-year-old male creature was discovered by a plantation worker on Monday in Riau province on Sumatra island.

‘The elephant’s head had been cut off and its severed trunk was found a metre away from the body,’ chief of the local conservation agency Suharyono, who goes by one name, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Indonesian veterinarians examining the dead elephant at an industrial forest concessions in Bengkalis, Riau province

The corpse of the 40-year-old male had been dead for a week before being found by an Indonesian plantation worker

Over two-thirds of the critically endangered Sumatran elephant’s natural lowland forest has been razed in the past 25 years 

Authorities said the mutilated elephant had likely been dead for almost a week, adding that they were looking for those responsible.

‘We suspect the elephant was hunted and killed and then its head was cut off to remove the tusks,’ Suharyono said.

Rampant deforestation has reduced the species’ natural habitat and brought them into increasing conflict with humans, while their tusks are prized in the illegal wildlife trade.

Sumatran elephants are critically endangered and a protected species, but rampant deforestation for plantations has reduced their natural habitat (File photo)

Last year, the corpse of an elephant was found with its tusks missing in Aceh province in an apparent poisoning case.  

According to the World Wildlife Fund the Sumatran elephant lost ‘half of its population’ in just ‘one generation’, alongside 70% of its natural habitat, and was named ‘critically endangered’ in 2012.  

Indonesia’s environment ministry estimates there are fewer than 2,000 Sumatran elephants still in the wild.

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