Palm Oil Plantations Destroying Biodiversity
Two critically endangered Sumatran elephants were found dead in an Indonesian national park and it is believed they were poisoned by workers for a palm oil corporation operating in the area, according to the World Wildlife Fund.
Now, three dead elephants have been found in Tesso Nilo National Park on Sumatra island in the last month. The carcasses of a five-year-old male and a young female were found on Friday within a kilometer of each other, said WWF spokeswoman Syamsidar.
“We believe that the elephants were poisoned as the carcasses were quite close to each other,” she said, adding that autopsies needed to be conducted before the cause of death could be confirmed.
A Sumatran elephant was discovered dead in the park early last month, also from suspected poisoning, she added. Fifteen Sumatran elephants were found dead last year in Riau province, where the national park is located. Approximately half of the fatalities were poisoned–sentencing them to a slow and miserable death, Syamsidar said.
Fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants remain in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Rampant expansion of palm oil and paper plantations and the mining industry have destroyed nearly 70 percent of the elephant’s forest habitat over 25 years, according to the WWF, and the animals have been targeted by poachers.
In January, 14 Borneo pygmy elephants were found dead of suspected poisoning in the Malaysian state of Sabah (on the nearby island of Borneo). Three-month-old orphaned calf Joe made headlines around the world when he was pictured trying to rouse his dead mother.