By Rizal Harahap
A baby elephant was found dead in a rubber plantation in Semunai village, Pinggir district, Bengkalis regency, Riau, on Tuesday.
The incident occurred as the Riau-chapter Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA) is attempting to relocate wild elephants in Rokan Hulu regency, near Bengkalis, in order to protect them.
The male baby elephant aged around 5 years was found dead by Wardi, 50, a Semunai resident when he was on his way to tap rubber trees in a nearby plantation.
It is suspected that the elephant died of poisoning there was evidence that it had vomited blood from its mouth.
“In areas near where the elephant’s remains were found, there were also signs and trails indicating that the elephant was in panic as had been experiencing severe pain. It is estimated that the elephant died two or three days ago,” BKSDA Riau head Mulyo Hutomo told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
He refused to speculate on why there were people trying to kill elephants by poisoning them.
Mulya acknowledged that however, wild animals had been long considered as pests as they often destroyed oil palm plantations and horticulture plantations.
He said the elephant was found in a border area of Balai Raja wildlife reserve and a production forest that was being converted into oil palm and rubber plantations by locals.
“To make verify whether the elephant was poisoned, we have sent its remains for an autopsy at the Veterinary Examination and Investigation Agency (BPPV)’s laboratory in Bukittinggi, West Sumatra,” said Mulyo, adding that the autopsy results could hopefully be received within two weeks.
He made sure that the baby elephant came from an area with a small elephant population in Balai Raja as the number of elephanst had reduced to just 42.