Baby Elephant Dies After Losing Her Trunk to a Poacher’s Trap

The one-year-old elephant was abandoned by her herd after being caught in a poacher’s trap that nearly severed her trunk.
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A Sumatran elephant calf that lost half of its trunk is treated at an elephant conservation center in Saree, Aceh Besar, Indonesia on Nov. 15. It died a day later. Photo: AP Photo/Munandar

Despite wildlife officials’ efforts to treat her rotten trunk, a baby elephant died in Sumatra, Indonesia, on Tuesday. 

“We have tried our best, but it can’t be helped,” the Associated Press reported Aceh province’s conservation agency head, Agus Arianto, as saying.

Found in the village of Alue Meuraksa on Sunday, the one-year-old elephant was reportedly in a weakened state after being injured by a poacher’s trap.

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In a previous statement, Arianto said that the baby elephant was likely left behind by her herd because of her declining health. Her trunk was almost entirely severed by the trap by the time she was found.

In an effort to save the calf’s life, wildlife officials amputated her trunk at a local elephant conservation center on Monday. While she appeared to be recovering after the procedure, an infection emerged later that day and she was dead by the next morning.

“Her death was shocking,” a vet at the center said. “Because she looked fine after being amputated and actively moving.”

Listed as critically endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, Sumatran elephants numbers are dwindling rapidly as deforestation, elephant-human conflict and ivory poaching pose serious threats to their survival. Besides Sumatran elephants, native tigers and rhinos also face threats to their survival as their natural habitats are destroyed to make space for palm oil plantations

Over the past seven years, the number of Sumatran elephants has nearly halved, Indonesian forestry data shows, with now only about 700 wild Sumatran elephants on Sumatra island.

Local elephant poaching—which often involves ensnaring or poisoning—has also increased during the pandemic due to the economic hardship faced by local villagers.

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