Indonesian police say an endangered Sumatran elephant has been found dead at a rubber plantation, apparently poisoned by poachers.

It is the 17th Sumatran elephant found dead on the island of Sumatra since March.

Sumatran elephant facts and figures

  • It is 1.5 to 2.7 metres tall at the shoulder.
  • It weighs about five tonnes.
  • It is slightly more than six metres long.
  • 2,400 to 2,800 Sumatran elephants make up the species' total population.

World Wildlife Fund

First Lt. Simson Purba of the local police said the plantation owner found the male elephant dying in East Aceh district Friday.

Purba said the animal was dead by the time authorities arrived. It was about five years old and its left tusk had been stolen. Police are investigating the death.

In 2012, the World Wildlife Fund declared Sumatran elephants as "critically endangered" because their population was cut in half over one generation.

The rapid decline is largely attributed to habitat loss, which forces elephants into human occupied areas where they are sometimes poisoned or killed, according to the organization.

Although Sumatran elephants have smaller tusks, they are still a target for poachers, according the WWF.

The WWF estimates there are only 2,400 to 2,800 Sumatran elephants left in the wild. Environmentalists say they could be extinct within three decades unless they are protected.

With files from CBC News