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Five Sumatran elephants 'poisoned in revenge attack'

( 03/12/2010 )

27 November - 3 December

Five rare elephants found dead on the Indonesian island of Sumatra are believed to have been poisoned, officials say.

According to the Bangkok Post, the actions may have been part of a revenge attack for ruining crops.

The animals, who were aged between two and four years old, were discovered in an oil-palm plantation in a village in the Riau province last Friday.

Edi Susanto, a conservation agency official, said that initial medical checks "indicated that the elephants could have died from sulphur poisoning".

"We suspect villagers killed them using poison for wild boars as the elephants had damaged their crops," he added.

"We're chasing the perpetrators."

The news follows similar reports from India in October, where dead elephants discovered on a tea estate were believed by authorities to have been poisoned - claims which were rejected by officials from the estate.

According to the Bangkok Post, human/elephant conflict is a growing problem on the Indonesian archipelago, as humans further encroach on wildlife habitats.

It is thought that there are perhaps fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants left in the wild.

Now local conservationists are concerned for an area of forest that is home to five per cent of the total population, and are pushing for the Indonesian government to halt its destruction to make way for a pulpwood plantation.

They say that the 42,000 hectares, reportedly owned by PT Lestari Asri Jaya, a subsidiary of Barito Pacific Group, contains the last population of Sumatran elephants in the Bukit Tigapuluh region.

They have written to the Ministry of Forests, warning that its destruction "would immediately lead to local extinction of elephants in Bukit Tigapuluh".

Part of the Bukit Tigapuluh Forest is protected as a national park, but surrounding sections have already been selectively logged and there is concern among conservationists that the whole area will be cleared.

Two Asian Elephants Electrocuted

Two wild Asian elephants have been found dead after accidentally touching a high-voltage wire near a highway in south-west China's Yunnan Province.

A press official with the Nature Reserve Administration in Xishuangbanna said that the bodies of a mother and her cub were discovered on a road in Mengman township, Mengla County of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture.

"We received reports of the accident at 8:30 a.m. Monday and sent a team of 30 investigators and vets to the site," said Zhang Guoying.

"The accident was believed to have happened at around 2 a.m."

It is thought the wires that killed them may have been broken, and the elephants - said to be part of a group of ten which roamed the town - brushed them as they walked past.

A female elephant was killed in a similar incident last week near India's Bandipur National Park.


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