Critically endangered Sumatran elephant found beheaded in Indonesia

Sumatran elephant, photo: Neilstha Firman via Canva
Sumatran elephant, photo: Neilstha Firman via Canva

A critically endangered Sumatran elephant has been found beheaded with his tusks missing in Indonesia, the Aceh Natural Resource Conservation Agency said Monday.

“The remains of the wild elephant were found in a tragic condition with his head gone,” said Rosa Rika Wahyuni, a veterinarian at the conservation agency. “We found poison in his digestive system,” she added.

It was not clear how long the male elephant, estimated to be about 12 years old, had been dead. The rotting carcass was discovered Sunday at a palm oil plantation in Sumatra’s Aceh region. An autopsy revealed the animal had been poisoned.

Deforestation has reduced the elephants’ natural habitat and brought them into increasing conflict with humans. Their tusks are also wanted in the illegal wildlife trade.

In recent years, there have been several elephant poisoning cases, including one in 2019 when a Sumatran elephant was also found decapitated with his tusks ripped off.

Aceh’s conservation agency estimated the region has as few as 500 Sumatran elephants still living in the wild.

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