Animals & Wildlife Magazine

Upset at Pygmy Elephant Poisoning

By Frontiergap @FrontierGap

Baby Joe, a three month old baby Pygmy Elephant orphaned by a poison attack, is reported to be struggling to survive after losing 22 pounds and refusing to consume more than half of his normal daily milk (usually 30 litres). He lost his mother and 13 others, from suspected poisoning, and was found in the Bornean jungle trying to rouse his dead mother back to life. The Pygmy Elephant is an endangered species, and protected by Bornean Law, yet this did not stop a cull on a herd that roamed too close to an palm oil plantation.


Photo credited to canorus

There are fears that more dead elephants will be found, and that more poison will have been left near to where the elephants live. This event was met with outrage from the Bornean people, with Masadi Manjun Sabah, the Travel, Culture and Environment Minister saying of the tragedy that, “it is a combination of anger and sadness. I am still grieving. I fail to understand human behavior.” The Malaysian Association of tour and Travel Agents (MATTA) have issued a RM10,000 reward offer for any information that could lead to the arrest and successful conviction of those responsible. The fact that Baby Joe is struggling so much after these traumatic events, is adding to the national outrage at the incident.

There are reportedly only about 1,200 Borneo Pygmy elephants estimated to be left in the wild, and due to their endangered status, those found to have killed an elephant will go to jail for between six months to five years. It is not a crime to be taken lightly, and the result of the killings of these elephants will only increase the level of severity of punishment for those who harm endangered species. As is to be expected, the deliberate killing of members of an endangered species has sparked debate about the careless nature that often goes hand in hand with developments for human use of natural products in wild areas. The oil palm plantation will believe that it must protect its produce, but the elephants that have roamed this area for so long, naturally return to eat the palm fruit.

The photographs of Baby Joe looking almost as if he is stroking his dead mother’s face touched hearts worldwide, and the effort continues for his survival. However, while this incident was hugely tragic, some have argued that it is in some way a good thing, for it will remind people globally that humans must learn to live alongside animals; and that we must work hard to find better ways to prevent the deaths of already endangered species such as the Borneo Pygmy Elephant.

By Ellie Cambridge

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