ELEPHANT KILLERS SHOULD BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE…

Indonesia’s president spoke out against the killing of a critically endangered  Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus) last week, using his Twitter  account to urge local authorities to take action in the case.

The large  male elephant was found dead last Saturday morning near Rantau Sabon village in  Indonesia’s Aceh province. The elephant’s face was crushed, its tusks had been  removed and taken and its trunk was detached from its body. Photos of the grisly  scene were quickly circulated via social media, generating over 10,000 mentions  on Twitter less than 24 hours after the animal was found, prompting a response  from the president and other high-level officials.

“This is  irresponsible behavior in the month of Ramadan,” Indonesia’s President Susilo  Bambang Yudhoyono said on Monday through his Twitter account. “I’ve instructed  them [local authorities] to pursue the perpetrator. Prevent it from ever  happening again.”

Rangers from the Conservation Response Unit (CRU), which works to  mitigate conflicts between animals and local communities, believe the animal was  killed by a spear trap around 1:00 a.m. on Saturday. CRU rangers had been  patrolling the village for several days after local residents said that two  elephants had been entering their plantations and were destroying crops. The  rangers had tried to drive both elephants away from the area the night before,  after finding and dismantling another spear trap near the village.

“That  night, we tried to drive Genk far away from the area because [we were] worried  after we saw that there were spear traps mounted in the trees,” said Muctar  Purba, the commanding CRU ranger, referring to the elephant by the name used by  local residents and rangers.

“We confiscated [the spear traps]. We did  not suspect there were other spears. It’s possible they [the spear traps] were  attached after Magrib [a Muslim prayer performed just after sunset] by the  people who intended to kill Genk.”

Genk, was found dead in Aceh Jaya. The Ministry of Forestry  and local police are now investigating. Photo: Fakhrizan Mahyeddin 

The 22-year-old Genk was well known in the area, and residents of  Rantau Sabon and other nearby villages often had problems with the elephant.  Genk had been in the Rantau Sabon area together with an elephant calf whose  mother had earlier been poisoned in another nearby village. The CRU rangers  believe Genk may have been the calf’s father, as the calf was often seen with  Genk after its mother’s death.

Rangers used fireworks and bonfires to  try to drive the elephants away from the area on Friday evening, finally  returning to their camp at 2:00 a.m. after they no longer heard the elephants’  movements. The next morning, the rangers heard reports that an elephant had been  killed with a spear and set off combing the area until they found Genk’s body.

“I cried when I saw Genk’s condition. Very sadistic,” Muctar told  Mongabay-Indonesia. “Genk must have been killed immediately when he was hit in  the head with the spear, because we did not hear the sound of a scream that  night. It looks like the perpetrator took the tusks that night as well.”

Aceh has been the site of a number of recent conflicts between humans  and Sumatran elephants. In 2012, 14 elephants were killed in the province, and  last month a baby elephant died while being cared for by residents of Blang  Pante village, who had refused to hand the animal over to local authorities  unless they received compensation for property destroyed in conflicts with adult  elephants.

Genk, was found dead in Aceh Jaya. The Ministry of Forestry  and local police are now investigating. 

 Killing or capturing endangered animals is illegal in Indonesia,  however perpetrators are rarely brought to justice. Organizers of the  #RIPPapaGenk social media campaign hope that by publicizing this case they can  put pressure on the government to investigate.

“There will be public  pressure,” said Novita Wulandari from the Orangutan Embassy, a group dedicated  to the conservation of endangered animals in Indonesia. “We hope the case of the  killing of this animal will get the attention of the government so that it will  have a deterrent effect in the field. Because so far there have not been any  cases that have been handled in a serious manner.”

In addition to  Yudhoyono’s Twitter response, Indonesia’s Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan has  also commented on the case. The minister said earlier via his Twitter account  that an investigation is currently underway and Aceh Police are already in  pursuit of a suspect.

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One Response to ELEPHANT KILLERS SHOULD BE BROUGHT TO JUSTICE…

  1. Pingback: Elephants | Sunset Daily

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