(ANIMAL WELFARE) Last week, Malaysian authorities released information regarding 10 Borneo pygymy elephants who were found dead in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve. Now, three more dead elephants have been discovered in Sabah, Malaysia, raising the total death count to 13. Police are looking into the possibility that the elephants were poisoned. This is a catastrophic number because only about 1,500 Borneo pygmy elephants still exist. Read on to find out what happened to this massacre’s only survivor. — Global Animal
In this Wednesday, Jan. 23, 2013 photo released by Sabah Wildlife Department, Malaysian wildlife officials investigate the death of an elephant at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Sabah, Malaysia. Ten endangered Borneo pygmy elephants have been found dead in the Malaysian forest under mysterious circumstances, and wildlife authorities suspect that they were poisoned. Photo Credit: AP Photo/Sabah Wildlife Department
Malaysian wildlife officials investigate the death of an elephant at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in Sabah, Malaysia. Photo credit: AP Photo/Sabah Wildlife Department

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) — Malaysian authorities discovered the decomposing remains of another three endangered Borneo pygmy elephants on Wednesday, deepening a mystery surrounding at least 13 such deaths this month.

The wildlife department in Malaysia’s Sabah state is bracing for the possibility of finding more dead elephants in the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, where an unknown number of the animals roam, said Masidi Manjun, Sabah’s environment minister.

Police are investigating suspicions that the elephants were poisoned. Officials have declined to say whether there are any suspects.

The first 10 known deaths captured wide attention when they were made public this week. Authorities released several photographs of the elephant carcasses and a particularly poignant one of a 3-month-old surviving calf that appeared to be trying to wake its dead mother.

“There is definitely a sense of urgency,” Masidi said by telephone from Sabah on Wednesday. “We cannot discount the possibility of more bad news.”

The orphaned male elephant, nicknamed “Joe” by his rescuers, was transported to a Sabah wildlife park. Officials say it is under observation and appears healthy.

The WWF conservation group estimates that fewer than 1,500 Borneo pygmy elephants exist. Most live in Sabah, one of two Malaysian states on Borneo island, and grow to about 8 feet (245 centimeters) tall, a foot or two shorter than mainland Asian elephants.

Known for their babyish faces, large ears and long tails, Borneo pygmy elephants were found to be a distinct subspecies only in 2003, after DNA testing.

Officials are working to have a laboratory analysis of samples from the dead elephants ready “as soon as possible,” Masidi said.

Department veterinarians have said the elephants, believed to belong to a single herd, suffered severe hemorrhages and ulcers in their gastrointestinal tracts.

More Huffington Post: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/01/30/borneo-pygmy-elephants-dead_n_2579880.html