Two rare elephants found dead in Indonesia: official

BANDA ACEH - Two critically-endangered Sumatran elephants have been found dead from suspected poisoning in Indonesia's Aceh province, an official said Thursday.

Villagers found the carcasses of the female elephants, aged two and 15, bleeding from their mouths and rectums in the forest near Panggong village in Aceh Jaya district on Wednesday, local conservation agency chief Genman Suhefti Hasibuan told AFP.

"Based on our preliminary findings, we suspect they were poisoned but we still need to conduct further tests to confirm," he said.

There were no gunshot wounds or snare injuries on the elephants, which were found only 10 metres (33 feet) apart, he added.

Protection group the International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the Sumatran elephant as critically endangered, with an estimated 2,400 to 2,800 remaining in the wild.

It is one of many species that are under threat in Indonesia, an archipelago with some of the world's largest remaining tropical forests.

Conflicts between humans and animals are increasing as people encroach on their habitats.

The elephants are usually either killed by villagers, who regard the beasts as pests that destroy their plantations, or by poachers for their tusks.