Elephants poisoned in Borneo

Dead elephant and orphan baby (c)AFP/Getty images

As CEO of the Born Free Foundation, I am often asked to comment on animal stories and reports.  I have a lifelong passion for elephants and their protection, so was particularly saddened yesterday when asked how young elephant calves deal with grief and the loss of their mothers.

Reported in today’s Daily Mail was a tragic story of the poisoning of a family of Asian elephants, leaving a three-month-old calf trying desperately to wake its dead mother.  Sadly, all too often when a mother elephant has died, its calf just stands by her until it too dies.  So I’m not surprised by this heartrending image but I’m deeply saddened by it.

To date no-one knows if the poisoning was malicious or accidental, or what poison caused the deaths, or why the elephants (originally 10 but now reported to be 14 and possibly more) were apparently targeted but clearly action should be taken to mitigate conflict if that is at the root of this tragedy. The 100,000 acre palm oil plantation nearby may, quite simply, have fragmented the elephants’ habitat so much that conflict was inevitable.

Born Free works to protect Asian elephants in the wild, supporting vital projects to resolve conflict between farmers and elephants and protect crops, raise awareness about conservation amongst local communities, and care for orphaned elephant calves (such as Jubilee) as they are gradually prepared for life back in the wild.

View statistics on elephant populations at bloodyivory.org

You can listen to my interview about this story with BBC radio 5 live’s Nicky Campbell here http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b01q97c9 (starts at 1 hr 20m 40s)

Blogging off


17 Responses to “Elephants poisoned in Borneo”

  1. Kami Says:

    This is so heart breaking. There must be a different way to deal with this other than poising. This is just heartless. Now what is this poor innocent baby calf supose to do without its mother. People we have to stop and think these baby animals are just like our kids. If the parents of a child dies then how does that effect the kid? Will it is the same for these poor animals.

  2. Louise Berry Says:

    I am aware that elephants grieve as we do and that losing a mother is extremely distressing for a calf.

    I feel a great fondness towards elephants and find it really sad that sometimes other people use, abuse and profit from elephants. It is very sad to think that someone chose to poison this elephant and deprive a calf of their mother.

    It is so important for us all to do what we can to raise awareness regarding animals and the abuse they suffer at the hands of humans. The work your organisation does is so valuable.

  3. ela Says:

    this story has saddened me equally too… elephant calves are very sensitive and they do cry like humans for their mothers. this is nat the first time that i have read such a story. and it really is not fair. i hope the calf survives the odereal. do keep the facts posted……….

  4. Andrew Hope Says:

    With ten members of this herd dead, and the calf dangerously young, it is a terrible blow to the endangered population, untill we know the full picture as to how they were poisoned, and if by humans, why, we cannot start to plan toward preventing future deaths. It does bring into discussion whether we are involving the local population in conservation enough? giving a sense of “ownership” and seeing where the local economy can benefit, not only by direct jobs in the tourist trade, by “spin off” sales of local products and crafts at decent prices to tourists and elephant lovers (elephant crafts and carvings)thus reducing dependence on subsistance agriculture. Another possibility is to approach Alan Savory of Holistic Management International and the Savory institute to see if his program in Zimbabwe can be adapted to this region, crops are protected from wildlife including elephant, cattle are grazed in a way that mimics wild grazier high density grazing, we need to think even more “out of the box” if we are to see Elephant and Rhino in the wild in ten years from now.

  5. Lorraine Gregory Says:

    I was so upset eading about the death of the elephants. What is matter with us humans why can’t people live along side the animals and share the land and food. The poor elephants do not deserve to be poisoned or shot for Ivory or anything else. I hope the people who have caused such suffering are caught and dealt with severly.

  6. Evon Nieman Says:

    My heart break when I read the terrible things happening to Elephants. Was it natural accident poison or poaching by poison? Could you please keep us posted about the baby “Ivy”. Wish I could adopt

  7. Helen Ratcliff Says:

    This is so sad. It really does tug at the heart strings… Baby elephants are emotional little creatures and can suffer mental instability well in to adult hood.. Should they survive such a devastating loss. If starvation and a broken heart doesn’t get them first. There seems to be so much news around elephants, rhinos and lions at present… Could it be related to the economy? Or, is it just greedy, ignorant poachers?
    I wrote an essay yesterday on my blog related to saving the lions.. Hoping to raise awareness from my corner!!
    Wishing you all the best
    Helen Ratcliff

  8. jim f Says:

    Try reverse engineering for a moment and ask why this is happening? What is the motivation for these deaths? How can THAT be handled with a possible solution that takes away the motivation to kill the elephants?

    I have no idea of who and why they are being killed, mainly because this articles does NOT address that. Are they threatening crops, other wildlife or people? Don’t just give us one horrible side of a story. Tell a complete story and you may find a complete solution.

  9. Jilly Says:

    This is appalling. How can Burma allow this to happen, when elephants are almost extinct. Something HAS to

  10. missfidji Says:

    Borneo ?
    What Jim f asks is the same as I would ask – more background reality, proper information. The article and photo bring up a lot of feelings but can take away motivation, so numb, just left feeling helpless and tragic. I want to help but cannot if there is no route to understanding more about the cause and effect, animal crime and horror, like all murder, there is always a reason to the perpetrator -What is the reason?

  11. Louise McKenna Says:

    I feel angry and sad. When will the human world wake up and realise that without without the rest of the animal world, without the trees and all that nature provides for us we are nothing and none. We are a grey sky surrounded by a concrete jungle – dead.

  12. keith muir Says:

    this is one of the saddest images ive ever seen,and touches the heart of all decent,and normal human beings.the people that carry out these terrible crimes against such magnificent creatures,must be the lowest form of human beings,and add no benefit to the world.the strongest message must be put out,by all world goverments,and wildlife crime organisations,and decent human beings around the world,that the abuse of animals,will be dealt with the ultimate punishment.these creatures cannot defend themselves against the murderers,who use any means to kill them,for profit.
    Shame on the chinese government,and any government,that does not stamp out the ivory trade,that is fueling these killings.

  13. Ella Says:

    How sad! This is such a heart-breaking story! I wish there was some way to change it

  14. Karen Says:

    This is so tragic to see that in our so called cultured age we still inflict brutality over everything. Growing up E was for Elephant …. in a very short period of time E will be for Extinct! Is that the legacy we want to give our children that we just destroy for money and profit,, it is time the governments of this world woke up and starting doing something constructive and positive and the people of the world grow up and start caring for what we have around us instead of just abusing what is around us.

  15. Donna Mackenzie Says:

    Well done Will on your interview on R2 (J Vine show). Was absolutely horrified to hear this latest heartbreaking tragedy may be as a result of the palm oil industry. Interesting that last week David Attenborough also spoke out about the “earth being threatened by a ‘plague’ of humans” and that human population growth must be limited or the world will face disaster. Ultimately we need animals much more than they need us.

    I frequently despair at the way so many humans treat animals then I log onto Born Free and am reminded that there are still so many decent people out there. Keep up the good work and keep letting us know what we can do to help.

  16. Ann Says:

    Saw this in the Daily Mail yesterday, I think it is the same little elephant- http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2274091/Pygmy-elephant-lost-mother-poisoning-forms-loving-bond-native-reserve-keeper.html?ICO=most_read_module#axzz2JfL4ERJt

  17. Mark Says:

    What a sad photo.