By Resty Woro Yuniar
The endangered Sumatran elephant found dead in the province of Aceh over the weekend was probably trapped and mutilated by locals looking to protect their crops, authorities said.
The death of the adult male – who was named “Geng” or gangster by villagers – was the latest in a string of attacks on Indonesia’s dwindling population of elephants.
“When we found the carcass, its head was damaged, its tusks and eyes were removed and its trunk was separated from the body,” said Nurjannah Husien, an Aceh-based activist who started a small local organization to protect Sumatran elephants. “I don’t know how people could be that cruel.”
Geng was found dead on July 13 in Rantau Sabon Village, in Aceh’s district Sampoinet.
Geng was likely killed by a spear-trap that was set by residents and died early Saturday morning, said Ms. Husien. On Friday night a government conservation team had tried to lure Geng away from local farms and encourage him to return to the jungle. They lost track of him around midnight Friday then found his mangled body Saturday morning.
Animal activists demanded government officials investigate the case and charge the perpetrators. It is illegal in Indonesia to kill or hunt protected animals. If anyone is found guilty of killing Geng they would face up to five years in prison and a fine of up to 100 million rupiah, or about $10,000.
“We were shocked by the horribly violent death of the elephant in Aceh,” President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said in his Twitter account on Monday. “The Forest Ministry and Aceh police are now conducting an investigation. I have instructed the authorities to prosecute the perpetrators and preventing this from happening again.” More....