(ENDANGERED SPECIES/ELEPHANTS) INDONESIA — Critically endangered Sumatran elephants have faced hardship from the ivory trade for years, but we often forget about another deadly reason for the species’ disappearance: the growth of palm oil plantations.

Earlier this month, seven Sumatran elephants were found dead and many believe the animals were poisoned by farmers in an attempt to keep them away from their plantations.

The production of palm oil is deadly to many living things, and it’s a product that manifests itself in over 50 percent of packaged goods found in grocery stores across the U.S. So what can you do? Take a stand against the “Snack Food 20″ companies, and urge them to take safe and regulated measures in palm oil manufacturing.

Sign the petition telling the “Snack Food 20” to cut conflict palm oil, not rainforests, and read the full article below for more details on the seven tragic deaths in Tesso Nilo national park. — Global Animal

The Sumatran elephant, along with other critically endangered species in Indonesia, could be extinct within the next 30 years.Photo credit: WWF
The Sumatran elephant, along with other critically endangered species in Indonesia, could be extinct within the next 30 years. Photo credit: WWF

The Guardian

Seven Sumatran elephants have been found dead in western Indonesia and it is thought they were poisoned, a wildlife official said on Monday.

Dozens of the critically endangered animals have died after being poisoned in recent years on Sumatra as the creatures come into conflict with humans due to the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations that destroy their habitat.

The latest to die were an adult female, five male teenagers, and a male calf believed to be from the same herd, said local wildlife agency spokesman Muhammad Zanir.

The remains were found on 16 February just outside Tesso Nilo national park and it is thought they died five months earlier, he said.

“There is an indication that they were poisoned,” he said. “Some people may consider the elephants a threat to their palm oil plantations and poison them.”

While Sumatran elephants are regularly found dead, it is rare to discover so many at the same time.

sumatran elephants, elephants, ivory trade, poaching, poisoning, palm oil plantations, endangered animals, endangered species
Three Sumatran elephants were found dead in 2012. They were also suspected to have been poisoned. Photo Credit: The Guardian

Swaths of rainforest have been destroyed in recent years to make way for plantations and villagers increasingly target Sumatran elephants, which they regard as pests.

While most concessions for palm oil companies are granted outside Tesso Nilo, in Riau province in eastern Sumatra, many villagers still illegally set up plantations inside the park, said WWF spokeswoman Syamsidar, who goes by one name.

Poachers also sometimes target the animals – the smallest of the Asian elephants – for their ivory tusks, which are in demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

The WWF says there are only between 2,400 and 2,800 Sumatran elephants remaining in the wild and warns they face extinction in less than 30 years unless the destruction of their habitat is halted.

Rampant expansion of plantations and the mining industry has destroyed nearly 70% of the elephant’s forest habitat over 25 years, according to the WWF.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the elephants as “critically endangered”, one step below “extinct in the wild”.

More Guardian: http://www.theguardian.com/environment/2014/feb/24/poison-fear-as-seven-sumatran-elephants-found-dead

Sign the petition telling the Snack Food 20: Cut Conflict Palm Oil, Not Rainforests!