Updated 2/4/2013: Crushing News: 3 More Pygmy Elephants Found Dead in Malaysia (Total Now 13)

Pygmy Elephant

Pygmy Elephant (Photo credit: Monsieur Bradley)

It’s crushing to read news like this:  At first the decomposing bodies of ten critically endangered  pygmy elephants were found in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, which is located in the state of Sabah, Malaysia, on the island of Borneo.  Now three more have been found, making the death toll 13 this month.  Authorities suspect poisoning — but by whom or what?  The odd thing here is there is no sign of poaching (as in the past in Sabah for, say, their tusks).  While we’ve grown accustomed to expect such constant anti-environmental news out of banana republics Indonesia and Malaysia (both located on the island of Borneo), it’s stories like these that hit especially hard.  All these elephants seem to be from the same herd, and a young, three month-old, male calf was seen trying to wake his dead mother.

Were these extremely social, family-centric animals poisoned by humans?  We’ve heard many recent stories of local villagers poisoning wildlife in the latest round of human-wildlife conflict.  Perhaps these gorgeous, lovely pygmy elephants (not so mini, really; only about 20 inches less than their “bigger” counterparts”) were suspected of trampling or eating villagers’ crops and the villagers exacted their cold revenge.  Nobody knows yet — or the authorities are remaining tight-lipped, rather.  I tell you, though, I feel so strongly about such animal slaughter that if I was confronted with a pygmy elephant poisoner face-to-face, I’d have a hard time not acting on my own primitive impulses (which would probably land me in third-world prison, like something out of “Midnight Express” or the more likely “Brokedown Palace”).

Here’s the latest story on the now-13 dead.  Beware of the incredibly sad photo of the baby elephant tugging at his dead mother.


Personally, I’m holding out a little hope that, at the very least, these deaths were somehow “natural” and not manmade atrocities.  It might make the pain a bit less.

Map of Borneo, based on information from sever...

Map of Borneo, based on information from several maps. Light yellow = Indonesia Light orange = Malaysia Green = Brunei (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Update – 2/4/2013:  After initial reports that the orphaned elephant Joe was not adjusting well to his new life without his family support group, and was dazed and distraught (I thought about him all weekend), some good news appears.  The veterinarians and keepers charged with his care have changed the formula that was being fed to him and he appears to be eating better and on his way to recovery.

And the authorities haven’t ruled out the possibility that these lovely creatures may have ingested some form of pesticide.  While tragic, none the less, at least I could handle such mistaken poisoning better than some evil, greedy human maliciously and knowingly poisoning these creatures as an act of retribution.  After all, there ARE palm oil plantations in the area — and we know what criminality goes on there.

Here’s the link to the story of Joe’s recovery:


And another one:


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9 Responses to Updated 2/4/2013: Crushing News: 3 More Pygmy Elephants Found Dead in Malaysia (Total Now 13)

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