Poison feared as seven Sumatran elephants found dead

Poison feared as seven Sumatran elephants found dead



A dead Sumatran elephant discovered in 2012: poison was also suspected in this case. Photograph: Hotli Simanjuntak/EPA

Seven Sumatran elephants have been found dead in western Indonesia and it is thought they were poisoned, a wildlife official said on Monday.

Dozens of the critically endangered animals have died after being poisoned in recent years on Sumatra as the creatures come into conflict with humans due to the rapid expansion of palm oil plantations that destroy their habitat.

The latest to die were an adult female, five male teenagers, and a male calf believed to be from the same herd, said local wildlife agency spokesman Muhammad Zanir.

The remains were found on 16 February just outside Tesso Nilo national park and it is thought they died five months earlier, he said.

“There is an indication that they were poisoned,” he said. “Some people may consider the elephants a threat to their palm oil plantations and poison them.”

While Sumatran elephants are regularly found dead, it is rare to discover so many at the same time.

Swaths of rainforest have been destroyed in recent years to make way for plantations and villagers increasingly target Sumatran elephants, which they regard as pests.

While most concessions for palm oil companies are granted outside Tesso Nilo, in Riau province in eastern Sumatra, many villagers still illegally set up plantations inside the park, said WWF spokeswoman Syamsidar, who goes by one name.

Poachers also sometimes target the animals – the smallest of the Asian elephants – for their ivory tusks, which are in demand for use in traditional Chinese medicine.

The WWF says there are only between 2,400 and 2,800 Sumatran elephants remaining in the wild and warns they face extinction in less than 30 years unless the destruction of their habitat is halted.

Rampant expansion of plantations and the mining industry has destroyed nearly 70% of the elephant’s forest habitat over 25 years, according to the WWF.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature classifies the elephants as “critically endangered”, one step below “extinct in the wild”.

– At peace with the elephants, Masen style

 At peace with the elephants, Masen style

Syafrizaldi Jpang, Contributor, Banda Aceh | Environment | Tue, February 25 2014, 12:58 PM


On the move: Members of a herd of migrating elephants near Selamat hamlet. Around 85 percent of the elephants on Sumatra live outside conservation zones.

On the move: Members of a herd of migrating elephants near Selamat hamlet. Around 85 percent of the elephants on Sumatra live outside conservation zones.

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On the banks of the Masen River in Teupin Asan village, a coffee-growing community has been keeping the peace with herds of Sumatran elephants that occasionally stray into their hamlet in Aceh Jaya, Aceh.

One resident of the village, Rusli, was recently heard reciting, “Bek neganggu kamoe, jak keudeh mita reuzeki hoe laen,” after a female elephant was recently found dead by the river. “Don’t disturb us,” Rusli’s chant went. “Go away and try your luck elsewhere.”

The elephant’s carcass got caught in branches at the edge of the river, whose flow was too weak to take it out to sea. The beast was also too heavy to lift from the river’s steep banks for burial.

“The only choice is to push it downstream,” Rusli said.

Dead elephants have been discovered several times in different parts of Sumatra, including Riau and Lampung. A male elephant named Geng died in Sampoiniet district in Aceh Jaya in July. Rusli said that he and nine other families of his hamlet felt the loss, as they had no conflict with the animal.

“Elephants only come occasionally in a herd of 10 to 25 to feed and pass by the fringes of the hamlet,” he says. “If they enter our plantations and eat some shrubs, it’s their fortune. Perhaps it’s part of the alms we need to give.”

Members of the hamlet have even given the elephants a helping hand, when needed, he says. In 2011, for example, a young elephant got trapped in a well. People then helped the beast to the ground by digging a hole in the side of the well and inserting a log as a ladder.

Some even descended to give the elephant a push until it could climb out.

“The other adult elephants gathered not far from the well. They could do nothing but wait until their young one was raised to the surface. The herd just left after,” he said.

Rusli said the experience convinced local residents that their mental pleas and chants to the elephants to leave the hamlet in peace had been heard.

According to Rusli, the sound of breaking branches or trumpeting elephants is heard when a herd passes. They will stay a bit longer when they find plants to eat. Otherwise they will go away, only to return to the same route some time later.

As the human population increases, however, new plantations or settlements spread over the corridors traversed by the elephants.

Community discussion: People in Selamat gather to discuss what to do about the elephants that pass through the community.

Community discussion: People in Selamat gather to discuss what to do about the elephants that pass through the community.

Data from the International Center for Research in Agroforestry (ICRAF) in 2010 said that land conversion in West Aceh increased by over 4,400 hectares a year after the 2004 tsunami.

Two-thirds of the change occurred in the interior of the province, indicating that the post-tsunami change in forest cover was not significant.

Meanwhile, a spatial analysis by Fauna & Flora International (FFI) said that 40,000 hectares of forests disappeared every year in Aceh between 2006 and 2010 due to logging, estate and mining concessions, road construction and changing land designations.

The key species monitoring coordinator of FFI-Aceh, Munawar Kholis, said that the deforestation had increased the intensity of conflict between people and animals as the elephants’ habitat became fragmented and the corridors the beasts used to roam became disconnected.

The FFI said that conflicts have erupted on more than 980 of 3,200 kilometers of elephant corridors on Sumatra Island.

Around 85 percent of the elephants on Sumatra live outside conservation zones.

“FFI recorded 164 cases of conflict between people and elephants during 2009–2013 only in Aceh Jaya and Pidie regencies,” said Kholis. Rusli was not surprised.

“If people grow plants or build settlements along animal corridors, don’t blame elephants when they traverse their former route and everything is damaged.”

If Rusli’s mental message does not reach the elephants, he prepares a carbide cannon made from a meter-long piece of PVC piping to frighten the animals away.

Noisemaker: One resident of Selamat, Muhammed, shows off his carbide cannon, which he uses to frighten elephants off with a large bang.

Noisemaker: One resident of Selamat, Muhammed, shows off his carbide cannon, which he uses to frighten elephants off with a large bang.

“This carbide cannon was made in 2008 when we returned to this hamlet. I‘m going to build a new one,” he said.

Rusli said that people moved to Selamat hamlet in the early 1980s to raise coffee.

They were uprooted by a flash flood and returned to Teupin village in 1987, returning in 1990 before leaving again in 2003 due to violence connected to the decades-long separatist insurgency led by the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

When the conflict ended following the signing of the Helsinki peace accords in 2005, people returned and Rusli started working his 1.5-hectare plot.

“Only half of the plot is for coffee, the other half for vegetables, corn and bananas, enough to support our family.”

He sells his coffee in the Calang, the capital of Aceh Jaya. Once every two months, Rusli and his wife harvest coffee beans, usually gathering 50 bamboo tubes per harvest, equivalent to 100 liters.

Rusli says that the coffee plants constitute another means of protection. “Elephants won’t pass through the boundary.”

Elephants don’t like coffee, in his view, perhaps because of its aroma or the sap of the shrub. The lessons handed down through generations of farmers has proven coffee’s effectiveness in warding off elephants.

Selamat hamlet residents still have another secret weapon in keeping safe: tree houses. All the families there have built tall houses on their plantations.

Room with a view: People in Selamat live in tree houses, some as high as 10 meters, to keep out of the way of roaming elephant herds.

Room with a view: People in Selamat live in tree houses, some as high as 10 meters, to keep out of the way of roaming elephant herds.

The wooden houses sit 8 to 10 meters high and are usually attached to big trees so that they won’t easily collapse. “We’ve chosen very strong trees, whatever species they are,” Rusli said.

Tree houses are local people’s last stronghold when the other attempts fail. In the event of an attack by wild elephants, they will be going upstairs while lighting up their cannons to produce loud bangs and scare away the animals. “Normally the elephants will be driven off by the explosions.”

— Photos by Syafrizaldi Jpang

– In Way Kambas, saving the Sumatran rhino

In Way Kambas, saving the Sumatran rhino

Indra Harsaputra, The Jakarta Post, Bandar Lampung, Lampung | Environment | Tue, October 22 2013, 11:48 AM


All in the family: Andatu (right) and his mother, Ratu, at the Suaka Rhino Sanctuary.

All in the family: Andatu (right) and his mother, Ratu, at the Suaka Rhino Sanctuary.

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In Way Kambas National Park in East Lampung, a conservation center has sprung up to save the Sumatran rhino.

Sumadi, the manager of the Sumatran Rhino Sanctuary (SRS), spoke fondly of Andatu, who was born on June 23, 2012.

The calf is only the fourth in the world — and the first in Asia — born in semi-in-situ captive breeding.

 “Andatu is in good health with a good appetite. Now he weighs 352 kilograms, almost the size of Ratu, his mother, who is over 500 kilograms,” Sumadi said at the inaugural Asian Rhino Range State Meeting in Bandar Lampung earlier this month.

The calf — who topped the scales at 25 kilograms at birth — was the focus of attention at the meeting of Asian and European specialists. In attendance were representatives of the major Asian nations with rhino populations: Bhutan, India, Indonesia, Malaysia and Nepal.

Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan was enthusiastic. “The birth of Andatu has opened the window of conservation for us all, because this is a very difficult undertaking due to the solitary nature of rhinos.”

Zulkifli said that semi-in-situ captive breeding for rhinos was possible — and Indonesia had proven it.

Occupying an area of 100 hectares of tropical forest in the 125,621 hectares of the national park, the sanctuary was established as part of the government’s Indonesian Rhino Conservation Strategy and Action Plan.  

 “Andatu” is a portmanteau of his parents’ names: Andalas, the father, who was born in the Cincinnati Zoo in USA in 2001 and has lived at the sanctuary since 2007; and Ratu, who was born and raised in Way Kambas.

It’s not easy to breed Sumatran rhinos in captivity, according to Indonesian Rhino Foundation Executive Director Widodo S. Ramono: Ratu had two miscarriages before delivering Andatu.

Bonny baby: Andatu, a 16-month-old Sumatran rhino calf currently tops the scales at 352 kilograms, up from 25 kilograms at birth.

Bonny baby: Andatu, a 16-month-old Sumatran rhino calf currently tops the scales at 352 kilograms, up from 25 kilograms at birth.

Watchful: Some species are hanging on by only a thread, with single populations numbering less than 50 animals.

Watchful: Some species are hanging on by only a thread, with single populations numbering less than 50 animals.

Endangered: Andatu stares at the camera. There are far fewer rhinos in Asia: only 3,500, versus 25,000 across Africa.

Endangered: Andatu stares at the camera. There are far fewer rhinos in Asia: only 3,500, versus 25,000 across Africa.

On hand during Ratu’s delivery were Benn Bryan from Australia’s Taronga Western Plains Zoo, Scott Citino from the White Oak Conservation Center and Paul Reinhart from the Cincinnati Zoo in the US, Susie Ellis from the International Rhino Foundation and Bibhab K. Talukdar from the Asian Rhino Specialist Group of International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

 “The birth of Andatu has inspired Indonesia to become a Sumatran rhino conservation center,” Widodo said. “Experts have also agreed to undertake bull conservation at the same time through a semi-natural ex-situ breeding program.”

Widodo said that the state of the rhinos in Asia was critical, and that Sumatran, Javan and the greater one-horned rhino of India needed to be protected.

Christy Williams from the World Wildlife Fund’s Asian Rhino and Elephant Program said that while the international community had paid significant attention to the plight of the black rhinoceros and white rhinoceros in Africa, relatively little focus had been given to Asian species.

There are far fewer rhinos in Asia: only 3,500, versus 25,000 across Africa, as of March. Some species are hanging on by only a thread, with single populations numbering less than 50 animals.

However, there are proven examples of rhino populations bouncing back from the brink.

Committed action by governments has doubled the number of rhinos in West Bengal in India over the last 13 years, for example. Crackdowns on poachers have also given a boost to rhinos in Nepal and India.

After a lunch of bananas, Ratu and Andatu walked out of their cage to spend their time outdoors in the 100-hectare sanctuary, which is surrounded by an electrified fences that spans 4 kilometers.

The five rhinos at the sanctuary — Andatu, Ratu, Andalas, Rosa and Bina — get daily checkups to ward off common ailments such as tuberculosis, hepatitis and salmonella.

TLC: The five rhinos at the sanctuary get daily checkups to ward off common ailments such as tuberculosis, hepatitis and salmonella.

TLC: The five rhinos at the sanctuary get daily checkups to ward off common ailments such as tuberculosis, hepatitis and salmonella.

All-Indonesia Zoo Association secretary-general Tony Sumampau said that the sanctuary needed an additional stud rhino to meet a goal of a 3 percent population increase by 2020.

“The male rhino and Rosa will be mated so as to produce a generation unrelated to Andatu,” Tony, who is also director of the Indonesian Safari Park, said. “It’s also necessary to protect the Sumatran rhinos previously discovered in East Kalimantan.”

Also on the agenda for the specialists at the meeting was the establishment of teams to set up rhino sperm banks, among other things.

According to Tony, Kalimantan is also home to Sumatran rhinos, as per the research of Hermann Witkamp, a Dutch geologist. “Witkamp is recorded to have proposed the protection of a two-million-hectare zone as a roving rhino region, but after the big wildfire in 1982, everybody thought the rhinos were nowhere to be found.”

Tony has plans with the Forestry Ministry to create another sanctuary, this one for Javan rhinos, in Ujung Kulon, West Java. “This second habitat is meant to anticipate the dangers from an eruption of Mount Krakatau.”

According to the ministry, only 50 Javan rhinos currently live in Ujung Kulon, much less than the population of about a 100 Sumatran rhinos that lives near Mount Leuser, Way Kambas and Bukit Barisan Selatan.

Not all the news is good, however, Tony said that rhino poaching was on the upswing in South Africa, with the number of poached animals soaring from about 20 earlier in the decade to over 668 in 2012.

— Photos by JP/Indra Harsaputra

12082012 Bird smuggler arrested in Indonesia

Bird smuggler arrested in Indonesia



Authorities confiscate more than 20 protected birds bound for illegal wildlife market

January 2012. A smuggler using a public bus to transport a veritable aviary of rare birds for the illegal pet trade was recently arrested by Indonesian authorities, according to the  Wildlife Conservation Society.

The arrest was carried out by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) in Lampung, Sumatra, Indonesia in December 2011, and resulted in the confiscation of more than 20 protected birds, including cockatoos, parrots, peafowl, birds of paradise, and other species. The enforcement operation was a joint collaboration between the BKSDA, WCS’s Wildlife Crime Unit, and the Anti Wildlife Trade Forum.

“We applaud the government of Indonesia for its commitment in stopping illegal wildlife trade within its borders,” said Joe Walston, Director of WCS’s Asia Program. “This arrest is the latest in a series of efforts by the Natural Resources Conservation Agency to curtail a significant threat to the country’s wildlife, in this case a number of protected bird species.

Busted on a bus
The smuggler, who was arrested on a bus travelling between the capital city of Jakarta and Medan in northern Sumatra, was tracked by BKSDA and the Wildlife Crime Unit from Bakauheni Seaport, a main transit point between the islands of Sumatra and Java. The waterway between the two islands-known as the Sunda Strait-is a main smuggling route for transporting illegal wildlife, much of which occurs on the hundreds of ferries that ply the strait.

“We believe that protected wildlife from eastern Indonesia is currently being smuggled abroad via Medan,” said Mr. Darori, the Director General Forest Protection and Natural Conservation, Ministry of Forestry. “The smugglers are trying to find alternative routes since both the seaport and airport in Jakarta are strongly monitored and protected by our officers.”

Green peafowls and chattering lories
The confiscated birds-stowed on the bus in several baskets and cages-included endangered green peafowls and chattering lories, a species classified as vulnerable. The enforcement team also recovered palm cockatoos and lesser birds-of-paradise, both listed as priority species by Indonesian Ministry of Forestry. Along with habitat destruction and conversion, the domestic and international pet trade is one of the major threats to bird populations in Indonesia.

Can sell for $50,000
WCS’s Wildlife Crime Unit estimated that the total economic loss for the birds on the international market could be as much as $50,000; a palm cockatoo could fetch as much as $15,000 on the international market.

Dr. Noviar Andayani, WCS Indonesia Country Director, said: “This case demonstrates the seriousness of the illegal wildlife trade and its impact on species conservation on the ground. As the smugglers have become more innovative in their approaches, it is important for all levels of society to collaborate in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.”

WCS created the Wildlife Crimes Unit in 2003 for the purpose of providing data and technical advice to law enforcement agencies in the investigation and prosecution of wildlife crimes. The unit also works to raise community awareness of prohibitions against wildlife trade. This work is supported by the Multinational Species Conservation Fund of the United States Fish and Wildlife Service.

More about Wildlife Conservation Society

The Primate Trade in Jakarta and Palembang

The Primate Trade in Jakarta and Palembang


Click the Animals !




(07/04/2012) The illegal primate trade in Indonesia remains high in two big cities in the country: Jakarta and ....  read more

12082012 Sumatra Forest Clearing

12082012 Sumatra Forest Clearing


Fires raged across Tripa’s peat forest in Aceh province earlier this month. (EPA Photo/Paul Hilton)Fidelis E. Satriastanti | July 23, 2012
The Environment Ministry is investigating eight plantation companies in Sumatra for allegedly clearing nearly 4,000 hectares of forest using slash-and-burn methods.

Arief Yuwono, the minister’s deputy for environmental damage control and climate change, said on Sunday that the companies were believed to have burned down more than 3,800 hectares of forest.

“Two of the companies are in Riau, four are in South Sumatra and two are in Aceh,” he said.

He added that the ministry was also investigating some local officials involved in issuing permits to the companies.

The investigation comes as the Environment Ministry prioritizes measures to prevent haze as a result of forest fires on the island and particularly in Riau, which is set to host the 18th National Games in September.

Purwasto Saroprayogi, head of the ministry’s forest fire monitoring department, said the areas of top priority were Pelalawan and Rokan Hilir districts in Riau.

“We’re giving priority to these two regions because the number of forest fire hot spots detected there is quite high,” Purwasto said.

He added that there was a risk of more fires spreading in the province because of the hot spots.

He said that under the ministry’s Fire Danger Rating System, officials now had a better understanding of how the fires were spreading.

“Whereas before we could only monitor once every seven days, now we can do it once every three days,” Purwasto said.

As of July 15, there were 2,643 hot spots detected in Riau this year, or more than half of the 4,876 detected across Indonesia by a US satellite. South Sumatra accounted for 1,180 hot spots, while West Kalimantan had 1,053.

In Riau, most of the hot spots were concentrated in Pelalawan district, with 527, followed by Bengkalis and Rokan Hilir.

Environment Minister Balthasar Kambuaya warned that the number of fires would increase as the dry season continued, fanned in part by the “El Nino” phenomenon in October.

“Based on the information from the FDRS and predictions of decreased rainfall, there will be a high potential of forest fires in the eight most prone provinces of North and South Sumatra, Riau, Jambi, and [all of] Kalimantan,” he said as quoted by environmental website MongaBay.co.id.

Borneo and Sumatra Threats

Borneo and Sumatra Threats



Forests The forests of Borneo and Sumatra are under threat from both legal and illegal logging. Indonesia’s status as the world’s number-one supplier of plywood puts the forests of Borneo and Sumatra under extreme pressure. The region is also a major source of hardwoods and wood products for the pulp and paper industry. The rate of deforestation in Indonesia is among the worst globally, with a staggering 80 percent of the nation’s wood supplies thought to come from illegal sources, including nature reserves and other protected areas. It is estimated that 85 percent of Sumatra’s forests have been destroyed by commercial logging and conversion to agriculture. Deforestation The pace of deforestation in Sumatra. © Flora and Fauna International, 2001. Borneo is facing a similar fate. According to a World Bank study, unless urgent action is taken, all of Borneo’s lowland forests outside of protected areas are doomed to disappear by 2010, and its upland forests by 2020. The green area represents Borneo’s forests in 2000 (left), and projections of forests loss in 2010 (center) and 2020 (right). © WWF Logs © WWF-Canon/Alain Compost Agriculture Expanding oil palm plantations are pushing out tropical forest and plans to grow palm trees are also used as a pretext for lumber extraction. Conversion of forests into palm oil plantations has been shown to result in the loss of 80-100 percent of the mammal, reptile and bird species in the area. Palm oil is used in a dizzying array of products including chocolates, ice cream, lipstick and detergents, and world demand is on the rise. Ironically, palm oil makes an excellent bio-fuel but unless sustainable production can be achieved, increasing use of this “clean” fuel may spell disaster for the forests of Borneo and Sumatra. Sumatra is also home to some of the richest Robusta coffee on Earth and its cultivation is encroaching on landscapes crucial to species conservation, including lands within the Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. WWF tracked illegal cultivation of Robusta coffee inside Indonesia’s Bukit Barisan Selatan National Park. Read our coffee report. Traffic © TRAFFIC SE Asia / Chris R. Shepherd Wildlife trade Rampant poaching, facilitated by the growing number of roads and logging trails, poses a grave threat to Borneo and Sumatra’s endangered species. Tigers are hunted for their skins, teeth and for use in traditional medicines. Rhinos are killed for their horns, which are also used in traditional Chinese medicine. Orangutans are stolen from the wild for the entertainment and tourism trade. Baby orangutans are popular pets and their mothers are often shot during their capture. International finance The vast wealth of natural resources found on Borneo and Sumatra has attracted large-scale international financing focused on extractive resources industries, from precious hardwoods and minerals to palm oil, rubber, natural gas and petroleum. The pressure to feed growing global demand and the huge capacity of mills and other operations funded by international investors has led to unsustainable logging, massive forest conversion and other practices that imperil the islands’ ecological integrity. WWF is identifying the most influential public and private financial institutions that drive the extractive industries and working with them to realize business opportunities that are economically, environmentally and socially sustainable. Fire © WWF-Canon / Tantyo Bangun Climate change With just over three percent of the world’s forests, Indonesia accounts for more than 14 percent of global deforestation. This represents almost half of the total global carbon emissions from deforestation and land degradation — almost twice as much as Brazil (the second-largest producer of greenhouse gases from land conversion), and more than three times Malaysia (the third largest). total carbon emissions — behind the U.S., the European Union and China, and ahead of Brazil. Deforestation and forest degradation account for more than 83 percent of Indonesia’s carbon emissions.

Illegal logging continues unabated in Sumatra

Illegal logging continues unabated in Sumatra



While conservation groups lobby to end illegal logging in two provinces in Sumatra, loggers find new and ingenious ways to beat the system.

Illegal logging remains an intractable problem in Sumatra, Indonesia, as discussed in two reports in The Jakarta Post on 28 January 2011. Vulnerable forests mentioned in these reports are the Merang production forest in Musi Banyuasin, South Sumatra, and the Way Kambas National Park (TNWK) in Lampung. Poor control of illegal logging in these areas has raised concern amongst conservation groups for the survival of the flora and fauna in the forests.

Merang Production Forest, Musi Banyuasin, South Sumatra Province

In the Merang production forest in Musi Banyuasin, tree cutting is reported to be “getting out of hand” and wood processing is “getting busier.” This is in spite of a temporary ban on sawmill operations imposed in December 2010 by the South Sumatra forestry office.

With seven sawmills still in operation, thousands of cubic meters of meranti timber are being felled, says Anwar Sadat, executive director of the South Sumatra office of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi). Sadat expressed frustration with the fact that local officials and the police do not acknowledge this situation.

The meranti, a dipterocarp belonging to the genus Shorea, is valued for its light to medium weight timber which is used for veneers. Oils and resins are also derived from the meranti.

Way Kambas National Park, Lampung Province

Concerning the Way Kambas National Park (TNWK) in Lampung Province, this protected rainforest is stated to be severely threatened by illegal logging. TNWK is home to many species of rare plants and animals including Sumatran tigers and Sumatran rhinoceroses, and is targeted for the establishment of a rare flora and fauna rehabilitation center.

Lampung Governor Sjachroedin Z.P. remarked that unless deforestation in the park is slowed down, resident wild animals will face serious problems. Indeed, this is already the case, with the number of Sumatran tigers remaining in TNWK reported by Sumianto, Coordinator of the Sumatran Tiger Rescue and Conservation Foundation (PKHS), to be less than 30 animals.

TNWK office head, Awen Supranata, explained that rehabilitation of the park is underway, with progress in retrieval of 6,000 hectares of peripheral land, eviction of residents of local fishing communities and removal of buffalo from the park.

Concern voiced by conservation groups

Citing “backroom deals” as a factor in the weak supervision and lack of control of illegal logging in the Merang production forest, Adio Sayfri of the Wahana Bumi Hijau Foundation has called for leadership from South Sumatra Governor Alex Noerdin to combat illegal logging and to involve members of the community and conservation groups in this endeavor.

In the Way Kambas National Park situation, director of the Lampung chapter of the Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi), Hendrawan, has expressed doubt that the rehabilitation described by the park office head will be effective unless firmer action is taken to eliminate illegal logging.

Illegal loggers find ways to beat the system

While conservation groups lobby the government for change, the loggers are finding new and ingenious ways to beat the system and continue their activities. As an example of this, the illegal logging problem in TNWK is becoming complicated by the fact that the loggers have recently taken to hiding felled trees on river beds while forest rangers are patrolling. When safe to carry on, the loggers retrieve the submerged logs and stack them onto trucks where they are concealed beneath sand.

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Source (www.suite101.com)

Fighting illegal logging with elephants in Sumatra

Fighting illegal logging with elephants in Sumatra



23rd February 2012

In a small Indonesian village, elephant eco-tourism is providing locals with an alternative living to logging and helping halt the destruction of the rainforest

In the village of Tangkahan, twice-weekly elephant patrols equipped with a pawang (mahout) and a few travellers wander the rainforest in an effort to deter illegal logging in Gunung Leuser National Park, northern Sumatra. Illegal logging in Indonesia is a huge  problem; the WWF reports a staggering 80% of the nation’s wood supply originates from illicit sources.

The village was built on the logging trade during the 1980s. The area consequently suffered from severe deforestation, a rise in palm oil plantations and substantial erosion.

Indecon, a non-governmental organisation educating locals about eco-tourism, introduced the grass-roots scheme to provide a sustainable and alternative source of income for the community.

The wild elephants used on the patrols were relocated from Aceh, where their habitat had been obliterated. The rehabilitated elephants were trained to carry people and now form the Conservation Response Unit (CRU).

“Sometimes we see the illegal loggers − we cannot arrest them, but we try and educate them to conserve this forest,” said Abdullah Hamid, an elephant mahout of the CRU and an unofficial park ranger.

Every year 2,000 travellers bump along the three and a half hour journey from Medan to visit Tangkahan. There are several places to stay; although most accommodation is in the form of a bungalow, there are two eco-friendly boats available that use the river’s hydraulic power to provide electricity. There is mobile signal in the village and electricity is available between 18.00 and 23.00.

Three buses that depart daily to Tangkahan from Medan’s Pinang Baris terminal.  Alternatively Trijaya Travel Agency offer tours from Medan. See www.trijaya-travel.com.