Agam, the baby elephant. Photo by Yuliannova Lestari/Indonesia Sahabat Gajah.
Agam, an orphaned two year old Sumatran elephant, died over the weekend presumably from injuries suffered during a fall last May. Caretakers battled to nurse Agam back to health after he broke or dislocated his hip while playing with another elephant at a rescue center in Aceh, Indonesia. Although impossible to know without an autopsy, officials suspect Agam’s bones were weakened by insufficient calcium absorption—a result of being raised on formula instead of his mother’s milk.
“From what we can see, the death of Agam was likely influenced by his inability to get breast milk from his mother,” Genman Suhefti Hasibuan, the head of the Indonesian Nature Conservation Agency in Aceh (BKSDA) told Mongabay. “When we rescued Agam from the interior of East Aceh, there was no parent.”
Agam was found in an abandoned well when he was only 3 months old, and was taken to the Saree Elephant Rescue Center with two other orphans. All three have now died, focusing attention on the difficulty of raising elephants outside of their natural habitat and without a parent.
Doctors doing an x-ray on Agam. Photo: Chik Rini
Only around 2,000 critically endangered Sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus sumatranus) are estimated to remain in the wild. The smallest of the Asian elephants, this sub-species can live up to 75 years. Mothers care for their offspring for 5 years after a 22 month gestation period.
Sumatran elephants migrate annually, and can travel 7 to 15 km per day. During the last 25 years, the destruction of over 70% of their habitat has forced the animals into closer and more frequent contact with humans. The damage roaming herds cause to crops motivates some villagers to shoot, trap or poison the elephants.
CITATION: Firman Hidayat and Chik Rini (2014). Agam, Anak Gajah Yatim Piatu Itu Telah Pergi. Mongabay-Indonesia October 28, 2014.