Farmers, Poachers Suspected in Elephant Kill

By Nurdin Hasan on 09:47 am Jul 15, 2013
Category Environment, News
A rotting elephant corpse found in East Aceh in 2010. (AFP Photo/Sutanta Aditiya)

A rotting elephant corpse found in East Aceh in 2010. (AFP Photo/Sutanta Aditiya)

Banda Aceh. A male Sumatran elephant aged about 30 found dead in Aceh Jaya district over the weekend is the third wild elephant death in Aceh in three months.

Amon Zamora, head of the Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency, said on Sunday that the carcass was found by Ranto Sabon village locals on Saturday morning. He believed a person deliberately killed it using a steel booby trap set using a tree.

“It’s very likely that someone killed [the elephant], because the ivory [tusks] had already been removed by the time it was located. We have asked for help from the police to investigate and try to find out who did this,” he told the Jakarta Globe.

“We are try i ng hard to capture the individual or individuals who may have killed this elephant for whatever reason, because that is an action that is forbidden by Indonesian law.”

Armidi, the chief law-enforcement official in the Forestry and Plantation Office of Aceh Jaya district, said the heavy trap had been installed on a fallen tree and angled so that the sharp steel spikes would enter the animal’s head.

“By the time the police arrived at the place where the elephant was found, the trap had already been removed by the [perpetrator],” Armidi said.

He added that details regarding the type of implement used to kill the animal had been supplied by people living in the area as well as surmised from marks left on the tree.

Ranto Sabon residents identified the animal as one that had regularly been eating crops planted in the area. They spoke of various unsuccessful attempts to drive it off, including using fireworks.

Armidi said the most recent skirmish with the elephant had been on Friday but that “almost every day that elephant would enter farms” in the area.

According to Ranto Sabon village chief Amiruddin, the presence of the elephant made residents anxious. “People have suffered losses [because of the elephant] and that’s why they put up traps in various locations,” he said.

He said that in view of people’s substantial losses, he could not stop them, adding that reports to the Conservation Response Unit requesting that the animal be dealt with had not received a response.

CRU is a program of Fauna and Flora International Indonesia that attempts to manage human-elephant conflicts by moving tame elephants into conflict areas.

Amon said humans and elephants were in an ongoing struggle for space in 19 of 23 Aceh districts, with Aceh Jaya, North Aceh, South Aceh, East Aceh, Aceh Singkil, and Pidie among the most conflict-prone areas.

“The conflict is caused by roads used [as corridors] through which the elephants pass while foraging. We have warned the residents several times against [creating obstructions], but they’re still continuing to do it.”

Amon said “the population growth for elephants in Aceh is actually pretty good because in a group of elephants there would always be one baby.”

But he noted that elephants were frequently being killed by farmers seeking to protect their crops, as well as by poachers seeking ivory.

In May, a 10-year-old male elephant was found dead near Bangkeh village in Pidie district.

Two months later a 2-year-old elephant died after living for two months as a “pet” for a household in Blang Pante village in North Aceh.

The elephant was reportedly left behind by its mother and captured.

Humans have also clashed with tigers over land further south in Sumatra.

  • DMR

    I saw the initial pictures of the massacred elephant, a critcally endangered species, and his face and trunk were savagely hacked off for his teeth. He died a cruel and vicious death. That he also suffered from a steel trap makes it 1000 worse. I also followed the story about the baby elephant who was kidnapped and held for ransom while the local NGOs frantically tried to negotiate his release. He wasn’t abandoned. His mother was chased off by the villagers because they wandered into the village starving after their habitat was destroyed. It was so sad to watch him chained-up and starving to death, without any compassion shown to him by those who enslaved and abused him.

    I’m sorry that the people of Indonesia are suffering some economic losses because animals are straying into their homes and/or are raiding their crops. I’m more sorry, though, that the wildlife there is being destroyed by the illegal fires from the palm oil companies, and that elephants, oranguatans, and tigers are well in their way to extinction.

  • Judith Harris-Gunadi

    The elephant savagely killed was known as “The Geng” which mean “the brave” by the people in that area, he was the leader or a pack of 47 or so elephants. he was called the brave because he was never afraid of people nor he ever really made any damages to the village or the plantation. It was mentioned that Villagers respect and has befriended “the geng” for a long time.

    the villagers still mourned the death of “the geng” and angered by his death. Geng was not killed by the villagers because he was distructive and disturbing the village, he was killed for his tusks and the killing was done by a group of professional poachers,judging from the weapons left in the area. Being a 30 years old adult, Geng was also known for his big tusks, averaging around 25 kilos in weight.

    the black market price for elephant tusks in sumatra can easily reach IDR 10 million per kgs, so do the math on how much geng’s tusks worth.

    if you wants to follow the progress on his case, just look for #PapaGenk on twitter or read @otanembassy timeline, or you can read here to:

    most are written in indonesia, but there are commens in english too..