Poisoned Sumatran elephant found dead in Indonesia

The dead elephant's stomach contents would be analysed to confirm its cause of death

A Sumatran elephant has been found dead from an apparent poisoning, an Indonesian conservation official said Thursday, in the second killing of the critically endangered subspecies this week.

The 25-year-old female elephant's corpse was discovered at a palm oil plantation in East Aceh regency Thursday, hundreds of kilometres from where another was found decapitated and with its tusks ripped off on Monday -- a suspected poaching case.

"Our initial findings found that the Sumatran elephant was allegedly killed by poison," said Rosa Rika, a doctor with Aceh's conservation agency.

The dead elephant's stomach contents would be analysed to confirm its cause of death, she added.

Last year, a Sumatran elephant was found dead from poisoning in another part of the region, after several similar cases in recent years.

Rampant deforestation to create plantations has reduced Sumatran elephants' natural habitat and brought them into conflict with humans, while their tusks are also prized in the illegal wildlife trade.

On Wednesday, some three dozen wild elephants stormed into a village in Aceh, destroying two homes.

Last month, Aceh said poachers who threatened endangered animals in the province could receive up to 100 lashes starting from next year. The conservative region administers public whippings for a range of offences under local Islamic law.

Indonesia's environment ministry estimates there are fewer than 2,000 Sumatran elephants still in the wild.