The best of EcoWatch, right in your inbox. Sign up for our email newsletter!
Beloved Elephant Yongki Killed by Ivory Poachers, Sparks Outrage
The brutal killing of a beloved elephant in Indonesia has sparked online anger, similar to the global outrage from the killing of Zimbabwe's Cecil the lion.
According to AFP, it's suspected that Yongki, a 35-year-old Sumatran elephant who helped patrol Indonesian jungles, died of poisoning at the hands of poachers. His maimed and bloodied body was found nearby a camp at the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park where he had lived.
He was found Friday around 7:30 p.m with his three-foot long tusks hacked off, "leaving just bloody stumps," with his legs still bearing the chains placed onto him by his keepers to ensure he stayed in the camp, the news agency reported.
"We are mourning the lost of an elephant who has been helping us in handling conflicts and helping forest rangers patrol the forest, and he was a good elephant," Nazaruddin (who goes by one name), the head of the Indonesian Mahout Forum, told AFP.
Yongki's keepers were "very shaken," Nazaruddin added.
A report from The Washington Post explains why Yongki will be sorely missed:
Along with his mahouts—a term used across south and southeast Asia for elephant riders—the lumbering creature was a member of a conservation response unit, or CRU, that sought to protect the natural habitat.
Every day, Yongki and his human partners would patrol the dense jungles of southern Sumatra. With a mahout on his back, he would trudge along paths too treacherous for any mechanized vehicle, on the lookout for ivory poachers, illegal loggers or farmers encroaching on protected parkland.
Yongki also had another duty: liaising between species.
Sumatran park rangers use tame elephants like Yongki to drive wild elephants back into the jungle, avoiding clashes between elephants and farmers who have been known to take revenge upon the animals.
Yongki's grisly murder highlights the gruesome nature of the (often illegal) ivory trade, in which mostly elephants are targeted for their tucks by poachers. About 100 elephants are killed each day in the trade, and the act could push some species to the brink of extinction in a handful of years.
There are currently 2,400-2,800 Sumatran elephants left on the planet. According to the World Wildlife Fund, these animals went from “endangered” to “critically endangered” in 2012 after half of its population was lost in a single generation mostly due habitat loss and human-elephant conflict.
Word is getting out after photos and news of Yongki's murder surfaced online. There is currently an online petition urging Indonesia's Attorney-General H.M. Prasetyo to take action and prosecute the culprits responsible for the elephant's killing. The hashtag #RIPYongki is also trending on social media worldwide.
YOU MIGHT ALSO LIKE
EcoWatch Daily Newsletter
By Jason Bittel
It's that time of year again: Right now, monarch butterflies are taking wing in the mountains of northwestern Mexico and starting to flap their way across the United States.
At EcoWatch, our team knows that changing personal habits and taking actions that contribute to a better planet is an ongoing journey. Earth Day, happening on April 22, is a great reminder for all of us to learn more about the environmental costs of our behaviors like food waste or fast fashion.
To offer readers some inspiration this Earth Day, our team rounded up their top picks for films to watch. So, sit back and take in one of these documentary films this Earth Day. Maybe it will spark a small change you can make in your own life.
On Friday, Seal Rescue Ireland released Sesame the seal into the ocean after five months of rehabilitation at the Seal Rescue Ireland facility. Watch the release on EcoWatch's Facebook.
By Jordan Davidson
Guinness is joining the fight against single use plastic. The brewer has seen enough hapless turtles and marine life suffering from the scourge of plastic.
People of all ages are spending more of their day looking at their phones, computers and television screens, but parents now have another reason for limiting how much screen time their children get — it could lead to behavioral problems.