File this one under sad and horrible.
Animal-rights group PETA announced Tuesday that they are offering a $1,000 reward for information leading to the capture and conviction of the person or people who killed three critically-endangered Sumatran elephants.
The female elephants, which included a year-old calf, were found rotting outside Tesso Nilo National Park, which borders several palm oil plantations. Sumatran officials suspect their death was in response to a recent stampede that destroyed plantation workers’ huts.
Park chief Kupin Simbolon said the elephants had likely been poisoned.
PETA Asia vice president Jason Baker spoke out about the tragedy when making the reward offer. “These cowardly killers need to be caught and prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law,” he said. “If poisoned, these elephants endured a slow and agonizing death.”
And that’s not even the worst of it.
According to Simbolon, at least 17 elephants have died near the park and plantations this year, and he suspects poisoning in most cases. Simbolon said he’s working with police to hunt down the perpetrators.
Fewer than 3,000 Sumatran elephants exist in the wild, a number that has dropped 50% since the 1980s. In January, the International Union for Conservation of Nature upgraded their status from “endangered” to “critically endangered” — primarily because of habitat loss caused by the palm oil plantations.
Elephants aren’t the only ones suffering. There has also been an uptake in orangutan deaths near plantations in Indonesia, which is the world’s largest producer of palm oil.
Here’s hoping PETA and the authorities catch the killers immediately and put a stop to this senseless slaughter.