By Diana Parker
Indonesia’s president spoke out against the killing of a critically endangered Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus) last week, using his Twitter account to urge local authorities to take action in the case.
The large male elephant was found dead last Saturday morning near Rantau Sabon village in Indonesia’s Aceh province. The elephant’s face was crushed, its tusks had been removed and taken and its trunk was detached from its body. Photos of the grisly scene were quickly circulated via social media, generating over 10,000 mentions on Twitter less than 24 hours after the animal was found, prompting a response from the president and other high-level officials.
“This is irresponsible behavior in the month of Ramadan,” Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said on Monday through his Twitter account. “I’ve instructed them [local authorities\ to pursue the perpetrator. Prevent it from ever happening again.”
Rangers from the Conservation Response Unit (CRU), which works to mitigate conflicts between animals and local communities, believe the animal was killed by a spear trap around 1:00 a.m. on Saturday. CRU rangers had been patrolling the village for several days after local residents said that two elephants had been entering their plantations and were destroying crops. The rangers had tried to drive both elephants away from the area the night before, after finding and dismantling another spear trap near the village.
“That night, we tried to drive Genk far away from the area because [we were] worried after we saw that there were spear traps mounted in the trees,” said Muctar Purba, the commanding CRU ranger, referring to the elephant by the name used by local residents and rangers.
“We confiscated [the spear traps\. We did not suspect there were other spears. More....