A sea elephant that reached the temperate waters of the Colombian Pacific on a migratory course from the Antarctic was spotted early in November by the residents of La Barra, Valle del Cauca. This animal, rarely seen outside water in the Colombian Pacific, was photographed by locals, before it swam south to the bay of Buenaventura, where fishermen also spotted the giant creature.
The seas elephant’s 9,000-km long journey to Colombia came tragically to an end when poachers hunted the animal on November 13 on the beaches of La Tola, department of Nariño, and according to environmental authorities, killed the animal by shooting it in the head.
In photographs released by El Colombiano newspaper, the dead animal is seen suspended by noose and where, on the same bloodied pier, was butchered for its meat. “The residents, not knowing the species with which they came into contact, effectively captured it and killed it,” confirmed Hugo Mideros of Corponariño.
The animal’s cruel death is now part of a formal investigation by the Colombian Prosecutor’s Office, Navy and Police. The Colombian Army confirmed that it is advancing in locating the whereabouts of the poachers. “If confirmed that the elephant seal was killed by a firearm, this implies not only an environmental crime, but also a crime associated with the illegal carrying of weapons,” stated Midero. The hunters could face up to three years in prison for animal abuse if captured.