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Projects in Sumatra, Indonesia

Update from Sumatra

Vanessa Gagne

We are delighted to share an August update from Dr. Christopher Stremme, the wildlife veterinarian working with Vesswic in Sumatra.

Hello!    
We are just back from ECC (Elephant Conservation Center) Seblat in Bengkulu.  Things are going well in Seblat, we conducted the quarterly elephant training standard evaluation which we started almost 2 years ago aiming to improve general training and handling standards, especially for health care needs, medical intervention and general handling reliability.  Following a standardized scheme and number of commands and skills, this evaluation has become a main trigger for the mahouts to keep focusing on improvement of elephant training needs for medical and health care management.  The better the training levels are getting now, the slower the progress.  But at least improvement is still slowly increasing and I think the mahouts and camp management have confirmed that Vesswic should keep following this up for maybe one more year to at least stabilize the reached standards.  Besides general health checks and treatments of some minor problems, the regular de-worming and tetanus vaccinations of all 18 ECC Seblat elephants were conducted.
14 year old Robi enjoying the King Grass

14 year old Robi enjoying the King Grass

The management of the revitalized elephant food plantation, which was started several months ago and supported by Vesswic, is going very well.  For about a month now, king grass is harvested regularly and contributes to improved nutrition for the Seblat elephants.
King Grass harvest

King Grass harvest

It is a special joy for me to again see the male elephant Harris now being in very healthy and well fed condition, after he was in such a poor and fragile condition when he was rescued with the help of your supporters the end of 2008.  Due to his very good condition now,  ECC Seblat has started to use Harris for protected habitat patrols  and, for this activity, he has been based now alongside 5 other elephants at the 14.00 hectare nature reserve, Bukit Kabar, in central Bengkulu.
Harris and his mahout Saparudin

Harris and his mahout Saparudin

It is also good news to report that we got approval from the USFWS (United States Fish & Wildlife Service) for a proposal for funding support for the utilization of mahouts and captive elephants from the ECC Way Kambas for forest patrols and HEC (human-elephant conflict) management in and around Way Kambas National Park.  So, funding for these activities, which have been started almost 2 years ago, initiated and supported by Vesswic and Asian Elephant Support, and which have become a vital part of the Way Kambas National Park management strategy, is secured for at least one more year.
Best wishes and many thanks from Sumatra,
Christopher