July 2, 2009

Another Sumatran Elephant Found Dead

Environmental group World Wildlife Fund (WWF) said Thursday that an elephant calf has starved to death in Indonesia, which makes this the eighth endangered Sumatran elephant to have died since May.

WWF spokeswoman Syamsidar said the calf is thought to be an offspring from an elephant that was poisoned to death recently during a growing conflict between animals and people over land and forest resources.

"A young male elephant died on Wednesday. We suspect it was the offspring of the elephant who recently died because of poisoning," she said.

"It was about two years old and still needed its mother's milk."

The dead baby elephant was found in Sumatra island's Lazuardi forest near a forest concession area owned by a company called Rimba Peranap Indah.

Of the eight elephants found dead in the last two months, five were found near or inside the concession area.  Three were found with missing tusks and four were thought to have been poisoned from toxic chemicals placed in palm oil plants.

"Some people are trying to protect their palm oil crops in the area by pouring insecticides on the plants. Maybe it's not intentional but it has killed a few elephants," Syamsidar said.

Conflicts between animals and humans have increased in Sumatra, where a struggle between legal and illegal logging is destroying the wildlife habitat.

About 2,400 to 2,800 Sumatran elephants remain in Indonesia, of which around 200 to 250 reside in Riau, according to WWF.


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