Baby elephant dies in Indonesia after trunk snared in poacher trap

Endangered Sumatran elephants are protected under Indonesia’s 1990 Conservation Act

Alisha Rahaman Sarkar
Thursday 18 November 2021 08:30
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<p>A Sumatran elephant calf that lost half of its trunk succumbed to her injuries</p>

A Sumatran elephant calf that lost half of its trunk succumbed to her injuries

A critically endangered Sumatran baby elephant died in Indonesia after losing half of her trunk to a trap set by poachers.

The one-year-old calf succumbed to a severe infection on Tuesday after she was found in a very weak with a snare still embedded in her almost-severed trunk on Sunday by villagers of Aceh Jaya district.

Despite efforts to save her life by amputating the rest of the injured trunk in a "life-or-death" operation, the elephant could not be saved, conservation officials said.

After the operation, the calf showed signs of recovery and caretakers had to feed her since she could no longer use her trunk.

“We have tried our best, but it can’t be helped either. Its trunk was getting rotten and no longer functioning,” said Agus Arianto, the head of Aceh province’s conservation agency.

A Sumatran elephant calf with an amputated half trunk

He said that an autopsy was underway by a team of veterinarians to determine the causes of the calf's death.

“She suddenly fell ill from stress and infection late Monday and by morning she was reported dead," added Rika Marwati, a vet at the conservation centre.

The calf was one of the island's last remaining critically endangered approximately 700 wild Sumatran elephants. These mammals are a subspecies of the Asian elephant, one of two species of the large mammal in the world. According to the Indonesian forestry and environment ministry’s data, the population has dwindled nearly 50 per cent from 1,300 in 2014 to 693.

Most elephants in Sumatra live outside formally protected areas because of rapid deforestation, which makes them vulnerable to poachers. Male elephants are especially targeted due to their highly-prized tusks in the illegal ivory market.

In July, an elephant was found without its head at a palm plantation in East Aceh. One suspected poacher and four others were arrested for buying ivory from the dead animal.

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