Malaysian officials suspect rare elephants were poisoned

A pygmy elephant calf walks next to its dead mother in Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in the Malaysia's...

A pygmy elephant calf walks next to its dead mother in Gunung Rara Forest Reserve in the Malaysia's state of Sabah on Borneo island, in this picture taken January 23, 2013 and released to Reuters January 29, 2013. REUTERS/Sabah Wildlife Department/Handout

QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:33 PM ET

Ten rare pygmy elephants died in a protected reserve in Malaysia's Sabah state, and officials believe they may have been poisoned.

According to the BBC, the dead animals were found over three weeks, all having suffered from internal bleeding. One three-month-old calf was found trying to awaken its dead mother.

The elephants, members of an endangered species, still had their tusks, but wildlife officials still believe someone killed them on purpose.

Sen Nathan, head veterinarian at the Gunung Rara Forest Reserve, told the BBC that tests on the elephants' digestive systems led officials to "highly suspect" acute poising.

There are fewer than 1,500 Borneo pygmy elephants — the smallest species of elephant — left in the wild, according to the World Wildlife Foundation.

"If, indeed, these poor elephants were maliciously poisoned, I would personally make sure that the culprits would be brought to justice and pay for their crime," Sabah Environmental Minister Masidi Manjun said.


Photos