By Diana Parker
Police in Indonesia’s Aceh province are investigating the killings of three critically endangered Sumatran elephants, as conflicts with humans led to a series of elephant deaths across the province last month. Five elephants have died in Aceh since late June, including two orphaned calves, highlighting the need to mitigate conflicts between elephants and local communities as deforestation drives the animals into villages and plantations in search of food.
Residents of Ranto Sabon village in Indonesia's Aceh province have handed over to authorities the tusks of a 22-year-old Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus) named Genk that was found dead in their village last month. The villagers admitted en masse to the killing, stressing that they were not after the ivory but were fed up with the elephant destroying their crops.
“Our motive was not to look for money,” said Keuchik Amiruddin, the village head of Ranto Sabon, as quoted by Mongabay-Indonesia last week. “If we wanted to hunt for ivory we would not have killed the elephant in the village, but in the forest.”
Amiruddin submitted the tusks to the Aceh Jaya District Police as evidence on August 3, along with a spike that was presumably used in a spear trap. The village head and 20 other local residents admitted to killing Genk, who was found dead in Ranto Sabon on July 13. “We set the traps together after we could no longer take the frequent disturbances by the elephant that ruined our crops,” Amiruddin said after turning the tusks over to police.
Elephant killings are fairly common in Aceh – last year 14 elephants died in the province, most from eating poison on palm oil plantations – and perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. More....