Elephant found mutilated in Vietnamese forest (tienphong.vn)

An elephant believed to be the last one living in the wilds of the north-central province of Quang Binh in Vietnam has been found dead.

The animal had its head, tusks, tail and skin cut off, and had been disembowelled, the Tuoi Tre newspaper said.

Dihn Quy Nhan, chairman of the Minh Hoa District People's Committee, told the online newspaper Dan Tri that experts believe the animal had died two days before it was found by locals.

The corpse had started to decompose when it was found in the Tan Hoa Commune forest.

Rangers, police officers and officials are now investigating the case. Locals said the forest had formally been home to two elephants - one male and one female.

However, the male was killed for its tusks two years earlier. The elephant found is probably the female, locals said.

The Department of Forest Protection Department of Quang Binh said it will not be possible to determine how the elephant was killed because it had been so badly mutilated.

Its carcass has been removed to prevent environmental pollution and to stop people coming to see its body.

Authorities say they do not know why the elephant had been skinned and beheaded.

However, Vietnam is known for its ivory trade and many parts are used for decoration or in traditional medicine. The WWF says Vietnam is one of the worst countries for ivory trade in the world.

Vietnam now only has around 100 elephants left in the wild. As well as poaching, habitat loss has also had an impact on elephant numbers.

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