Thirty-Year-Old Elephant Found Shot Dead In Malaysia
Malaysian police are investigating after a 30-year-old elephant was found dead. Having been shot twice in the head and once in its rear, the bull's trunk and tusks had also been removed.
According to Malaysian news outlet the Star Online, Bukit Aman Internal Security and Public Order director, Commander Datuk Seri Zulkifli Abdullah said the elephant is thought to have been killed a week ago.
"The dead animal was found some 15km from the main road of Jalan Gerik-Kuala Kangsar," he said.
After receiving a tip-off, a team including police, General Operation Forces (the light infantry arm of the Royal Malaysia Police) and the Department of Wildlife and National Parks arrested four men aged between 40 and 49 at various locations on Sunday.
"One of them led the police to a house in Kampung Padang Jeri where they found two rifles, two homemade shotguns, RM10,500 (£1,900 / $2,700) in cash, 255 bullets, wire traps, machetes, chainsaw and various hunting equipment," said Zulkifli.
"We also seized a deer horn and seven bone fragments, believed to be from a tiger. All four suspects will be remanded until March 18 to be investigated for possessing illegal firearms, unlicensed weapons or ammunitions and for carrying weapons in public."
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The incident took place in Perak, the country's fourth-largest state. It is not currently clear why the elephant was shot. Poaching remains a problem in Malaysia, with rhinos in particular targeted.
Elephants are also sometimes hunted, but the biggest threat to their existence in the Asian country comes from loss of habitat, particularly due to logging.
With growing human populations, elephants are increasingly in closer contact with people than ever before. Worldwide, incidents of elephants raiding crops and villages are on the rise, often resulting in retaliatory killings which, the WWF says, experts believe to be the leading cause of elephant deaths in Asia.
However, with its tusks and trunk removed, it is likely that the 30-year-old elephant killed this week was the victim of poaching, despite the fact that most poaching for ivory occurs in African countries as opposed to those in Asia.
In Asian elephants, only males have tusks, which means they are exclusively targeted by poachers, leading to a disproportionate gender balance in elephant populations throughout the continent.
The WWF argues that illegal poaching is, like the drug industry, a global operation with international (and highly dangerous) networks running complex operations for their customers, whether buying animals for perceived medicinal purposes or as exotic pets.
Featured Image Credit: Handout