Speaking to online newspaper Dan Tri on Thursday, Dinh Quy Nhan, chairman of Minh Hoa District People’s Committee, the local government, said experts had ascertained that the elephant, reportedly weighing four tons, had probably died about two days earlier.

The corpse was decomposing when it was discovered by locals in the Tan Hoa Commune forest, he said.

A group of forest rangers, police officers and officials from Tan Hoa and Cao Quang communes has been sent to the site to investigate the case, according to the news report.

It quoted local people as saying that the forest had been home to two adult elephants – one male and one female.

But, two years ago the male animal was poached for it tusks, so it was suspected that the newly-discovered carcass belonged to the female.

In the meantime, a report in Tien Phong (Pioneer) newspaper quoted wildlife experts as saying that the dead animal could be the last wild elephant in Quang Binh.

Thanh Nien News - April 4, 2013

Endangered Vietnam elephant 'skinned, disemboweled'

The skinned and mutilated corpse of one of Vietnam's dwindling population of endangered wild elephants has been discovered in a forest in central Quang Binh province, state media said Friday.

The female elephant's skin, tail, tusks, ears and many internal organs had been removed, the Tuoi Tre newspaper said, quoting local forest rangers.

It was not immediately clear why it was mutilated, but elephant ivory and other body parts are prized in Vietnam for decoration, as a talisman, and for use in traditional medicine.

Local residents reportedly recently saw an elephant wandering in the forest about 40 kilometres (25 miles) from the Laos border. They are more commonly found in Vietnam's Central Highlands.

Vietnam is home to some 100 wild elephants, according to state media, but habitat loss, human-animal conflict and poaching are seen as responsible for a sharp decline in the population in recent decades.

Environmental group WWF says Vietnam is one of the world's worst countries for trade in endangered species. Vietnam outlawed the ivory trade in 1992 but shops can still sell ivory dating from before the ban.

The Bangkok Post - April 6, 2013