Endangered elephant shot 70 times, tusks hacked off, officials say

Malaysian officials on Monday said the mutilated corpse of an endangered pygmy elephant was found on Borneo island last week with about 70 gunshot wounds and tusks hacked off.

The gruesome discovery, reported by local media outlets, represents the latest death in the dwindling elephant population as poachers target the mighty beasts for their tusks. According to the international conservation group WWF, there are only 1,500 Borneo pygmy elephants left.

The Borneo pygmy elephant is an endangered species, with an estimated 1,500 remaining. 

The Borneo pygmy elephant is an endangered species, with an estimated 1,500 remaining.  (wwf.org.au)

Augustine Tuuga, the wildlife department director in Sabah state on Malaysian Borneo, said the cruel attack was “not common.” He said the poachers were likely locals, while the attack did not look like a professional operation, AFP reported.

Elizabeth John, a spokesman for the wildlife trade monitoring group Traffic, said there have been no arrests despite increased killings of pygmy elephants.

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“Identifying and bringing those responsible for the killings to justice is key to tackling this threat,” she told AFP. “We hope investigations don’t stop at just this case, there is a high chance this is linked to others.”

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Borneo, shared by Malaysia, Indonesian and Brunei, is the world’s third-largest island. Pygmy elephants are protected under Malaysian law.