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Elephant endangered from illegal logging dies

A Sumatran elephant endangered from illegal logging has died. ITV News highlighted the story of Raja who was being held to ransom by villagers in Aceh, Indonesia. They were demanding compensation from the government for the financial loss they were suffering.

Raja the elephant Credit: ITV News

In a statement charity Elephant Family said: "The villagers buried Raja soon after his death, and without having been able to examine his body, it is difficult to know for sure how he died.

"From the reports they gave, it seems that very tragically, through their inexperience and without checking with the vets, the villagers started giving Raja something new to eat from the forest - something he could naturally eat, but which is very rich in protein and which his body wasn't used to.

"It seems that they gave him too much of this particular plant, and this caused a sudden bacterial infection and bloating, and his young body couldn't cope. It apparently all happened so quickly."

Elephants suffer as forestry habitat destroyed

The Sumatran elephant, one of the smallest of the Asian elephants, is the most endangered elephant in the world. Currently there are between 2,400 and 2,800 left, making the species "critically endangered", according to Elephant Family.

Raja the elephant has been captured by villagers close to a palm oil plantation in Indonesia Credit: Jim Wickens/Ecologist Film Unit

Like all Asian elephants, the Sumatran elephant is threatened by poaching and habitat loss, caused by increasing demand for palm oil: Across Indonesia hundreds of thousands of acres of tropical rainforests and peatlands have been destroyed to make way for plantations.

oil plantation and bare land within the PT Tunggal Perkasa Plantations in Lirik, Indragiri, Hulu, Riau. Credit: Credit: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

Environmentalists and scientists say that 65% of Aceh’s forest needs protected to save the Sumatran elephant, and the government's current plan would only allow for 45% to be protected - a difference of way over a million hectares.

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