Another tragedy involving our elephants unfolded recently when an endangered Sumatran elephant was found dead not far from where he lived in the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park.
As WWF Indonesia reported the 34-year-old male, affectionately known as Yongki, was discovered after daybreak on 18 September 2015 by a Mahout actually looking for another “flying squad elephant,” named Karnangin.
But sadly it was Yongki that he found lying on the ground, his tongue “suspiciously” blue indicating a possible poisoning (though no foaming of the mouth was present).
Out of his mouth, where Yongki’s once magnificent three-foot tusks belonged, now divulged tiny “bloody stumps”, the ravages of an obviously violent encounter. (No exact cause of death has yet to be determined.)
“He was a good elephant,” explains Nazaruddin, “head of the Indonesian Mahout Forum”. “We are mourning the lost (sic) of an elephant who has been helping us in handling conflicts and helping forest rangers patrol the forest.”
Along with Karnagin, three other males (Renggo, Tomi, and Sampot) lived in the patrol camp with Yongki. One female, Arni ,also belonged to the team of “flying squad elephants”.
They were all obliged to remain in the camp by the chains which encircled their legs, yet some voices say their service only helped elephants.
This group of “tame elephants” (no details were given on how they were tamed) effectively stopped the “wild elephants from trampling the villages”, thus saving those elephants’ lives by the hands of the villagers and their families. (The elephant “patrols” were also out to enforce “illegal logging and poaching” activities “that threaten the vast rain forests of Indonesia”.)
But, in the end, who was there to protect Yongki?
Yongki, the elephant whose species, the Sumatran elephant, edges far too close to extinction.
Yongki, the elephant among elephants who was lauded for his “goodness,” yet he met his end by those who can only be described (politely) as beyond bad.
As one “tweet” on #RIPYongki exclaims “I am ashamed to be human.” Oh, and so am I.
See also: yongki the elephant Twitter
Photo credits: AFP/ The Jakarta Post
Resources: The Jakarta Post “Killing of Endangered Sumatran Elephant Sparks Anger”
The Jakarta Post “Elephant Poaching in TNBBS Probed”