Critically endangered Sumatran elephant gives birth in Indonesia

Seruni with her newborn baby elephant in Bengkalis on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.
Seruni with her newborn baby elephant in Bengkalis on the Indonesian island of Sumatra.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - A critically endangered Sumatran elephant has given birth to a new calf in Indonesia, the country's conservation agency said on Wednesday (Jan 17).

Sumatran elephants are a protected species, but rampant deforestation for plantations has reduced their natural habitat and brought them into conflict with humans.

The newborn was found with its 40-year old mother Seruni, who was being closely monitored by the agency in anticipation of the birth inside a conservation forest in Riau on the island of Sumatra.

Officials expressed jubilation at the arrival of the baby who is believed to be a week old. Its gender has not yet been determined.

"The birth of the elephant is a conservation gift," the agency said in a statement.

"The calf is constantly being guarded by its mother and two other adult elephants." Dozens of elephants were found dead in Sumatra last year, including an adult without tusks in Aceh, along with its abandoned 11-month-old calf.

Most were killed by humans, according to conservationists.

Last month, a pregnant elephant was found dead in a palm oil plantation in Sumatra, in what authorities suspected was a deliberate poisoning.

There are believed to be around 2,000 Sumatran elephants left in the wild.