Rizal Harahap, Pekanbaru – The carcass of an elephant with its tusks and trunk cut off has been found decomposing in the concession area of PT Arara Abadi (AA) in Bengkalis regency, Riau, in an apparent poaching case targeting the endangered animal.
Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) head Suharyono said the male elephant's dead body was found by a lumberjack working for PT AA while he was cutting down a eucalyptus tree at about 11:45 a.m. on Monday.
"The worker noticed a rancid smell coming from the trees while he was working. When he went to check the trees, he found an elephant's carcass lying on the ground," Suharyono told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
The lumberjack's supervisor reported the findings to PT AA management, who later passed the report on to BKSDA Riau, he added.
BKSDA Riau and the Law Enforcement Unit for Environment and Forestry in Sumatra dispatched 11 personnel consisting of vets, elephant tamers and investigators to conduct a necropsy and gather data to reveal the cause of the elephant's death.
Following the necropsy, BKSDA Riau failed to see signs of poisoning or of ropes tied to the body of the elephant, which they estimated to be 40 years old at the time of his death.
Judging by the body's condition, the agency predicted that there was a high possibility that the elephant had been dead six days prior to the discovery of its carcass.
"We suspected that the elephant was killed or hunted because his head has been torn apart and his tusks had been removed. His trunk had been cut from its base and had been thrown away at least one meter from his body," Suharyono said.
He added that the BKSDA team did not find any bullet wounds on the elephant's body.
BKSDA Riau Conservation and Resources Unit head Heru Sutmantoro added that his team had only received the report on Tuesday evening due to the lack of mobile signal in the area, which prevented the institution from receiving the information on time.
According to Heru, the dead elephant was found in the Giam Siak Kecil-Balai Raja area, the habitat of approximately 40 wild elephants, most of which live in the concession area belonging to PT AA, he added.
The male elephant was the second to fall victim to human-elephant conflict within the PT AA concession area in the last two months.
On Oct. 15, BKSDA Riau also found a one-year-old elephant trapped in a nylon string in Sungai Mandau district in Siak regency. The calf is currently undergoing intensive care at the Elephant Training Center in Minas. (dpk)