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A pygmy elephant (File Photo) Shutterstock/ylq

Endangered pygmy elephant shot dead in Malaysia 'out of revenge for destroying crops'

At least 18 pygmy elephants have been killed in the region since April.

A PYGMY ELEPHANT was shot dead in Malaysia after it destroyed villagers’ crops, a wildlife official in the Asian country has confirmed.

The male elephant, believed to be about four years old, was found by the side of a road in the state of Sabah, on the Malaysian part of Borneo, on Monday.

According to local wildlife department director Augustine Tuuga, the “merciless” killing was carried out near a remote settlement, and authorities are now investigating who is responsible.

“(The elephant) was killed out of revenge for destroying crops,” he told AFP, adding that the crops included palm oil trees.

He said the creature’s tusks remained intact, indicating that the elephant was not killed by poachers seeking to sell its ivory on the black market.

It is the latest case in Malaysia of conflict between humans and animals, which often happen when settlements or plantations expand into a species’ natural habitat.

Malaysia is home to vast tracts of rainforest and a kaleidoscope of exotic wildlife, from elephants to orangutans and tigers, but the numbers of many rare species have fallen dramatically in recent decades.

As well as human-animal conflict, many endangered animals are hunted for their body parts, which fetch high prices for use in traditional medicine in China, and other parts of Asia.

At least 18 pygmy elephants have been killed in Malaysian Borneo since April, The Star newspaper reported, with causes of death including elephants being targeted by poachers and poisoning.

Pygmy elephants are baby-faced with large ears, plump bellies and long tails that sometimes drag on the ground, according to environmental group WWF.

Rainforest-clad Borneo is the world’s third-largest island, and is divided between Malaysia, Indonesia and Brunei.

© – AFP, 2018

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