WWF Calls for Probe into 43 Elephant Deaths in Riau


The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) had called for a probe into the killing of 43 Sumatran elephants in the Riau province over the past three years to preserve the protected animal.

“Over the past three years, there was a high rate of elephant killing cases. We are worried the people will consider elephant deaths as common, albeit the fact is that all of them were poisoned to death,” Syamsidar, a spokesman of the WWF Program in Riau, said on Monday.

In 2012, there were 15 cases of elephant killing that were not probed as yet; 14 cases in 2013, including 13 deaths that occurred in the Tesso Nilo National Park in Riau.

During the January-March 2014 period alone, there were 14 cases of elephant killing. One of the deaths occurred during a relocation of a wild elephant from its habitat in the Rokan Hulu district to the Elephant Conservation Center in Minas in the Siak district, Riau, on January 1.

The criminal cases had not been disclosed so far and no one was held responsible, he said.

“None of the cases has been dealt with and no one has been brought to court,” he added.

WWF is committed to helping mitigate the conflicts between people and animals in Sumatra, but the government must also enforce the laws, according to the spokesman.

“Legal enforcement must be intensified because the cases that occurred over the past three years showed that the elephants were poisoned illegally. There must be legal enforcement,” Syamsidar said.

According to an estimate in 2009, the population of elephants in the Riau province was 150 to 200 heads. He, however, estimated that the number may be smaller due to the high rate of killing of elephants.

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