Environmentalists say the discovery of another decapitated elephant in Aceh Jaya suggests that ivory poaching in the area was not only still happening, but might be on the rise.
The Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) urged authorities to do what they can to stop the illegal practice.
“If nothing is done, it will result in the extinction of the protected animal,” said T.M. Zulfikar, Walhi’s Aceh executive director.
On the black market, a one-meter-long piece of ivory costs between Rp 250 million and Rp 600 million ($27,000 and $65,000).
Aceh Jaya forest ranger Mukhtar said the male elephant recenly discovered in Pante Kuyun village was poisoned and its body had turned blue. This was the second incident of a poisoned elephant in Aceh Jaya in the past month.
“It was no different than the female elephant that died on April 30 in Krueng Ayon village. This wild animal was poisoned,” Mukhtar said of the recent find.
While initial assumptions were that the deaths were due to elephant-human conflicts, the fact that they were decapitated suggested otherwise, said Taf Haikal, an activist from Aceh’s Western and Southern Coastal Caucus, .
“The death of the male elephant and its missing ivory are evidence that ivory poaching may be happening not only in Aceh Jaya, but in all Aceh forests,” Taf said.
He said that poaching of elephants was not a mainstream activity and that the crime was being committed by a small minority for the purpose of ivory trading.
Taf urged the police, the Natural Resource Conservation Office (BKSDA) and other parties to investigate the death of the Sumatran elephants and to establish whether their deaths are linked to an ivory-trading mafia.
“The death and decapitation of the male elephant was likely caused by poachers,” Taf said.
Aceh Jaya District Legislative Council (DPRK) chairman Hasan Ahmad also called on parties to settle the elephant-human conflict within the hinterlands community.
“We hope all parties can overcome the elephant-human conflicts so that the animal can remain protected, and residents can earn a living peacefully,” Hasan said.
Hasan said the government has alocated a large sum of money to overcome elephant-human conflict in the Ulu Masen area. The tensions have existed for years, especially in Aceh Jaya.
Taf also urged the government to find a solution to the animal-human conflict in the area.