In this photo taken on May 10, 2013 two children look at a dead Sumatran elephant that was killed by electrocution the day before at Blang Gajah Mate village, in Pidie, Aceh. (AFP Photo/Zian Mustaqin)
By Nurdin Hasan Jakarta Globe July 26
Banda Aceh. Another elephant has been found dead in Aceh, the second this month, with reports from local people indicating that the elephant’s tusks have been removed.
“Conflicts between elephants and humans often happen in Blang Tualang and the neighboring village of Pante Labu,” Rabono Wiranata, the head of non-governmental organization Fakta said on Friday. “Some villagers or hunters may have placed poison on the track often used by elephants.”
The adult male elephant was found on Thursday inside an oil palm plantation run by state-owned PTPN I in Blang Tualang village, East Aceh.
Rabono said the elephant was understood to have died four days ago.
He added that local residents had repeatedly complained about a pack of elephants “trespassing” on their plantations and destroying plants, but there had been no serious response from the local authorities.
The head of Aceh’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), Amon Zamora, said he received a report of the death on Thursday night. A team was dispatched to the area on Friday morning.
“But [the team] haven’t returned, so I don’t know yet as to what caused the elephant’s death,” Amon told the Jakarta Globe. “I’ve told the team to report the case to police if the tusks were gone. If they were gone, we would strongly suspect that it’s been murdered.”
The finding came just two weeks after a 30-year-old male elephant was found dead in Ranto Sabon village in the Aceh Jaya district, Its tusks had been severed.
Aceh Jaya Forest Ranger commander Armidi said the elephant died after it was caught in a sharp metal trap placed on a big tree log.
Police and BKSDA Aceh have not been able to find the perpetrators.
The latest finding brought the number of elephant deaths in Aceh to four over the past three months.
On May 9, a 10-year-old male elephant was found dead due to electrocution in Bangkeh village in the Pidie district.
On June 23, a two-year-old elephant died after having been looked after for two months by residents of Blang Pante village in the North Aceh district. The villagers took care of the elephant cub after it was left behind by its pack in a local plantation.
Demand for ivory has soared in recent years, primarily due to increased demand from China, where it is highly valued for its use in crafting ornaments. Elephant tusks sell for several hundred dollars per kilogram.
IN 30 YEARS of fighting poachers, Paul Onyango had never seen anything like this.
Twenty-two dead elephants, including several very young ones, clumped together on the open savannah, many killed by a bullet to the top of the head.
There were no tracks leading away, no sign that the poachers had stalked their prey from the ground. The tusks had been hacked away, but none of the meat.
Several days later, in early April, guards in the Congo’s Garamba National Park spotted a Ugandan military helicopter flying low over the park on an unauthorised flight but they said it abruptly turned around after being detected. Park officials, scientists and the Congolese authorities now believe the Ugandan military killed the 22 elephants from a helicopter and spirited away ivory worth more than $1 million.
”They were good shots, very good shots,” said Mr Onyango, Garamba’s chief ranger.
Conservation groups say poachers are wiping out tens of thousands of elephants a year. Some of Africa’s most notorious armed groups, including the Lord’s Resistance Army, al-Shabab in Somalia and Darfur’s Janjaweed, are hunting elephants and using the tusks to buy weapons. Organised crime syndicates are linking up with them to move the ivory around the world.
But it is not just outlaws cashing in. Members of some of the African armies the US government trains and supports financially – the Ugandan military, the Congolese army and newly independent South Sudan military – have been implicated.
The vast majority of the illegal ivory – experts say up to 70 per cent – is flowing to newly rich China, where the price has soared to $2000 a kilogram.
Last year, more than 150 Chinese citizens were arrested across Africa for smuggling ivory. There is evidence poaching increases where Chinese workers are. ”China is the centre of demand,” said Robert Hormats, a US official. ”Without the demand from China, this would all but dry up.”
In Tanzania, impoverished villagers are poisoning pumpkins for elephants to eat. In Gabon, subsistence hunters in the rainforest are being enlisted to kill elephants and hand over the tusks, sometimes for as little as a sack of salt.
The New York Times
- Ivory for China: poaching soars (smh.com.au)
- US-Funded Armies Slaughtering Record Number of Elephants | Common Dreams (2012indyinfo.com)
- Slaughter on a huge scale: do you want your children to grow up in a world without elephants? (smh.com.au)
- Africa’s Elephants Are Being Slaughtered in Poaching Frenzy (nytimes.com)
- Africa in grips of epic elephant slaughter (smh.com.au)
- Africa’s Massive Elephant Slaughter Increasingly Militarized, Mafia-ized (treehugger.com)
- Elephants slaughtered to provide ivory to China (chinadailymail.com)
- Tens of thousands of elephants are being slaughtered as the ivory trade becomes militarised (refreshingnews99.blogspot.com)