Contact Us

Use the form on the right to contact us.

You can edit the text in this area, and change where the contact form on the right submits to, by entering edit mode using the modes on the bottom right. 

         

123 Street Avenue, City Town, 99999

(123) 555-6789

email@address.com

 

You can set your address, phone number, email and site description in the settings tab.
Link to read me page with more information.

Projects in Sumatra, Indonesia

Filtering by Tag: Asian Elephant

Drought in Way Kambas

Vanessa Gagne

Enduring the dry season in Way Kambas National Park (WKNP), Indonesia, August 2016

The month of August brought with it increased temperatures, dried grassland, and big challenges for the WKNP Elephant Response Units (EURs).  The dry season gave rise to the illegal burning of alang-alang grasses and in this one month alone, the ERUs who call the park home reported 22 forest fires. These fires were believed to have been started by wildlife hunters to facilitate wild deer hunts mainly in the Bungur and Tegal Yoso, with the latter hit hardest.  

    Managing forest fires was not an anticipated task for the WKNP mahouts who have not been trained to fight fires.  Due to the unpredicted need and lack of budget for firefighting equipment the ERUs rose to the challenge and worked feverishly using tree branches to help extinguish the fire. Water was also used from their water bottles to saturate surrounding areas in order to prevent the fires from spreading. The Bungur ERU found one case where an area of 2 hectares of grassland had been destroyed by fires.  Tegal Yoso had the most prolific illegal burning within their patrol region reporting 21 cases.  In 10 instances the grasslands were burnt 2-3 days previous to patrols.  The remaining 11 cases the Tegal Yoso ERUs encountered were active fires which required immediate attention by mahouts to prevent further destruction of the park.

    The three ERUs assigned to the park, patrol a very large area that stretches over 125,261.3 hectares. On patrols they continually try to deter and prevent any illegal forest activities while monitoring and protecting wildlife.  An enormous thank you goes to the ERU teams who rose to the difficult challenges they faced and put their safety secondary to protecting the biome and the inhabitants of the WKNP.   Our donors also deserve many thanks for helping supporting the patrols the ERUs carryout.  In the case of emergency situations, such as the ones the Way Kambas encountered in August, every donation is crucial to the future of the wildlife and forest protected by the ERUs.

ERUs to the Rescue: Mom and Calf

Vanessa Gagne

Once again we are so proud to be supporting the Elephant Response Units (ERU's) in Sumatra, Indonesia. The work that they do every day is critical to the survival of the wild Sumatran elephant population.  On December 1, 2015 the Margahayu ERU learned that a wild female elephant and calf had become stuck in a muddy trench on the border of Way Kambas National Park.  
 

The ERU team located the pair and attempted to rescue the elephants, but it proved to be quite difficult. The team returned with the ERU captive elephants and with their help they were able to successfully rescue the wild pair.  The wild elephants returned to the rest of their herd that was waiting in the National Park.

A huge thank you to all of the ERU teams that are dedicated to saving the critically endangered Sumatran elephant and to all of our donors that make it possible.
 

trench3.jpg

CONSERVATION AND RESPONSE UNITS WAY KAMBAS, SUMATRA, INDONESIA

Vanessa Gagne

Prepared by Elena Pranatio and Dr. Christopher Stremme

The Conservation Response Units (CRU) in the Way Kambas National Park (WKNP), which are employing captive elephants and mahouts from the Way Kambas Elephant Conservation Center to conduct human elephant conflict management and habitat patrols, are hugely effective and contribute much to reducing human-elephant conflict (HEC) and securing the WKNP habitat.

The first two CRUs  were established with the construction of permanent basecamps in 2011 and 2013 on the northwestern border of the WKNP in the areas of Bungur and Tegal Yoso.  This is one of the HEC hotspots having caused ongoing loss of almost all crops close to the WKNP border; therefore leading to great resentment against the WKNP and wild elephants from local communities.

The two CRU base camps at Bungur and Tegal Yoso each have 5 captive elephants used for habitat patrols and, if needed, to drive off wild herds that  venture into farmland. During daily routine patrols the two units cover more than 15 km of WKNP border and a total of about 400km² of national park area. Regular staff of each CRU unit consists of 5 mahouts from the WKNP and 4 people from the local communities who are employed and trained as permanent staff of the CRU teams. Besides conducting patrols and wild elephant drives inside the national park, the CRU teams have also encouraged teams from local communities to build observation posts outside the WKNP on its border area and conduct regular night watches to detect wild elephants early and guard their valuable crops. The teams from the local communities have been trained in techniques of how to drive away wild elephants if they get close to the WKNP border and if needed,  get backed up by the experienced CRU teams with its elephants.

A communication system, via mobile phones, between the CRU teams and the local community teams has been established and functions as an early warning tool ensuring ongoing information exchange between the CRU and local communities about elephant migrations close to the WKNP border.  This allows for  the timely coordination for needed crop guarding and wild elephant drives.

Currently 11 villages in the Bungur – Tegal Yoso area benefit from and participate in this HEC mitigation strategy with the CRUs. As a result of this work, the occurrence of incidents where wild elephants actually succeeded to pass the WKNP border and reach farmland has been reduced by more than 70%. The actual loss of crops due to the early warning and quick intervention has been reduced by more than 90%.

Due to the massive decrease of loss of crops, and thus increased income, the local communities have become much more willing to withdraw from most illegal activities inside the WKNP such as logging, cultivation, poaching, and cattle grazing and have become willing to accept the CRU’s law enforcement role for the protection of the WKNP area as undisturbed habitat for wild elephants. This has led to a reduction of such illegal activities by more than 90% in the Bungur-Tegal Yoso area.

Due to the success of the Bungur and Tegal-Yoso CRUs, in 2014 the head of the National Park has asked donors such as IEF, AES, and USFWS, who have supported the establishment and operation of the CRUs, for support to establish a new third CRU at the southwestern border of the WKNP, which is another HEC hotspot. IEF, USFWS, and AES agreed to support the establishment of this new CRU and in November 2014 the construction of the new basecamp in the Margahayu region was started. In January 2015 the CRU team were based at the camp while still under construction. The initial team consisted of 5 captive elephants and 5 mahouts from the WKNP Elephant Conservation Center. Shortly after the team arrived 4 young local people from nearby communities were employed and started to be trained as CRU team members. Training for such new team members consists of:

  • Captive elephant management and care
  • Habitat navigation by using basic orientation points in the area, maps, and GPS
  • Wild elephant behavior, approach and driving strategies
  • Conservation laws and regulations

Initial staff training and camp construction were completed in April 2015 and the new CRU is fully operational. During its daily routine patrols a border area of about 10km is covered. During the past months the CRU team has constantly monitored the movement of wild elephant herds close to the WKNP border. Already several situations have been encountered by the team where a large herd of more than 30 animals intended to cross the NP border to venture into villages and farmland. The team has managed these incidents by driving the elephants away from the border back into the forest area of the WKNP. Such drive operations often last for several days because during the drive, the wild elephants initially retreat in the nearby forest, but during the next night they try to enter into the farmland again. This means the CRU team has to stand by on guard for several days until the wild herds finally give up and retreat back deeper into the WKNP forest area.

The people from local communities start to respond positively to the presence and activities of the new CRU as major crop raiding events by wild elephants have been prevented since the CRU has become active.  The team has started to approach the people from the local communities to start building joint crop guarding and HEC mitigation strategies like in Bungur and Tegal-Yoso. The CRU team has already encouraged and supported the first community members for the construction of two observation posts outside the WKNP directly on its border with farmland. These posts are now already used for crop guarding during the night time by local community members.

The CRUs have become a very successful and important part of the WKNP habitat protection and HEC mitigation strategy. The successful implementation of the day to day field work is ensured by teams of highly motivated and skilled staff from the national park in close collaboration with local communities.

A major obstacle is that the WKNP agency itself does not have sufficient resources to fully finance the ongoing operation of CRUs. Therefor the continuation and possible expansion of the successful CRU work relies much on external funding support.

Update - Elephants at ERU camps and Sun Bear release

Vanessa Gagne

As usual, the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC) veterinarians are working diligently for elephants and other wildlife in Sumatra.  In August, the team visited the Elephant Conservation Centers (ECC) in Minas and Sebanga in the province of Riau.  After VESSWIC assisted the Nature Conservation Agency (BKSDA) with a few cases involving wild and captive elephants, the head of BKSDA Riau sent a formal request for regular health care support.  VESSWIC will be collaborating with the BKSDA to improve the care of the elephants in the Riau elephant camps.  The initial plan is to do quarterly visits for the next 12 months. During this trip the vet team was invited to visit a small conservation forest area inside a pulp and paper production forest. The company with in this conservation area, Arar Abadi Pulp and Paper Company, currently manages 6 elephants, but the management of these elephants will be going back to BKSDA Riau.  The BKSDA and Ara Abadi would like to establish an elephant patrol unit in the Bengkalis district, which is an area of high human-elephant conflict. VESSWIC was asked to evaluate the health and general management of the elephants to determine if they could be used for patrol.  Furthermore, BKSDA has asked VESSWIC to provide technical assistance to establish this new Conservation Response Unit (CRU)/ Elephant Patrol Unit.

Last medical check before transport

Last medical check before transport

In our last update in the April newsletter, VESWIC had assisted BKSDA Aceh with a sun bear rescue.  We are happy to report that two of the sun bears that were being kept in quarantine at the BKSDA headquarters have been released into the Ulu Massen forest area. One of the bears had been confiscated from an illegal private holding facility and the other had been injured in a wire snare and brought to the headquarters for treatment.  

Loading the boat to go deep into the forest

Loading the boat to go deep into the forest

With your support, AES has been able to make a three year commitment to VESSWIC to help them continue the work they are doing for the wildlife and humans living in Sumatra.

Leaving the transport cage

Leaving the transport cage

Mahout Workshop

Chris Reifschneider

The Sumatran Mahout Communication Forum (FOKMAS) was established in 2006 and was the first time Indonesian mahouts have organized as a professional entity. The goal of FOKMAS is to improve communications and provide ongoing training via various modules during the annual mahout workshops. These workshops are supported by the Indonesian government and various NGOs, including AES. They have increased the capacity of its membership to participate and provide meaningful data for Sumatra wildlife conservation, habitat protection efforts, and improved the care of the captive elephants.

Workshop participants posting with the elephants.

Workshop participants posting with the elephants.

The 6th mahout workshop was held from November 26 – 28 at the Elephant Conservation Center in Tangkahan, Sumatra and was attended by approximately 40 mahouts from around Indonesia. Director April Yoder was able to attend as a representative of AES.

There were presentations on various topics followed by hands-on demonstrations. The demonstrations included GPS training, the use of an ultrasound, footwork, obtaining field measurements to estimate the weight of an elephant, and actually weighing the elephants on a portable scale (donated by AES). These people are on the front lines of conservation in Indonesia, and it was wonderful to see, first-hand, the level of enthusiasm and participation by the mahouts.

Hands-on demonstration

Hands-on demonstration

Along with support for the workshop, AES also provided funding for a man named Sounthone Phitsamone (Kan), from the Elephant Conservation Center in Laos, PDR to attend this workshop. AES has supported the Center on various projects over the last couple of years. We felt it would be helpful for Kan to attend this workshop to gain valuable knowledge from the mahouts in Indonesia. In turn, he would share this information with the mahouts in Laos. View the Education and Travel Sponsorships page to read more about Kan's trip to the Mahout Workshop.

Kan modeling our bumper sticker

Kan modeling our bumper sticker

A Baby Update from Sumatra, Indonesia

Vanessa Gagne

The Sumatran elephant is now considered “critically “endangered, so every baby is even more important to the future of the species.  We have some good news to share about two orphaned elephants that AES has helped support.

Bona playing in the forest

Bona playing in the forest

We are pleased to share that little Bona is not so little anymore!  While she still enjoys the companionship of her “adopted mom”, Aswita, she is now completely weaned from the formula.  She has a healthy appetite, especially for fruit.

In our April 2013 newsletter, we introduced you to Agam, the baby elephant that fell into the abandoned well.  Thanks, in part, to your support, he is now in stable condition.  He is 9-10 months old now and has begun to eat solid foods.  His milk supplements can slowly be decreased, but he will still rely on the milk supplement for at least another 10 months.

Agam receiving his formula

Agam receiving his formula

We are very encouraged by the progress of these baby elephants and we are hopeful for their future.  Unfortunately, due to an increase in human-elephant conflict, there will be more babies that need our help.  The ability to act quickly in these situations is critical, so please consider making a donation to AES or signing up for our monthly giving program, so we can move quickly to help protect the future of Sumatra’s elephant population.

Bona Update

Vanessa Gagne

We recently received some photos of little Bona, the orphan elephant calf in Sumatra, that we would like to share with you.   Aswita, an adult female elephant, has become Bona’s adopted mom and does a great job looking after her.    

School days:  As Bona approaches her second birthday, it is also time for her to start school.  Aswita is a very good teacher and Bona has been busy learning how to use her trunk to find natural elephant food.  She has also been learning behaviors that will assure safer and less stressful exams when the veterinarian comes to visit, as well as behaviors that will help her in her daily life with the members of her four and two-legged family.  Learning at Aswita’s side and with lots of verbal praise and food rewards makes school time fun for Bona.

A sincere thank you:  Bona is blossoming into a robust little girl and we would be terribly remiss if, in addition to Dr. Stremme and the full crew who are a part of Bona’s life, we didn’t also give a nod and very sincere thank you to Murray Munro, from Australia.  He and a cadre of his friends have become collaborators and team players on Bona’s behalf.  For the last six months they have taken over the funding of the supplemental feeding that is still so important for Bona as well as having one of them in camp to observe and help with her feeding schedule.  This significant support and sincere concern for Bona has also enabled AES and Vesswic to be able to redirect their funds to other needs.   We appreciate ‘Murray & Crew’ very much!  There are no bounds to what we can accomplish when we roll up our sleeves and work together….and Bona thinks she probably has also expressed her thanks simply by being so darn cute!

Parasite Prevention for Pachyderms

Vanessa Gagne

While elephants in range countries face many challenges in their daily lives, one of the medical issues they encounter is internal parasites.  Elephants can become infected by ingesting food or water that contains parasite larva.  Parasites can contribute to an overall decline in health by causing such conditions as anemia, weight loss, and diarrhea. In extreme cases, parasites may overwhelm an organ or body system resulting in death.  The lack of appetite and poor food utilization caused by a large number of parasites can also inhibit the growth and maturation of young elephants. Occasionally, the adult parasites can be seen in the feces, but an infestation can also be detected by examining a fecal sample using a sedimentation and flotation method.

AES has been working with the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC) to improve the health of the captive population of elephants in Sumatra, Indonesia. Some of the parasites found in elephants in Sumatra include: Strongylus spec., Strongyloides spec. Ascaridae, Fasciola spec. Paramphistomoidea and Anoplocephala spec.  To help control parasites in elephants, VESSWIC routinely deworms the captive elephant population every 3-4 months. Ivermectin is a broad spectrum anti parasitic that is often given in combination with other medications to treat internal parasites in elephants.

As a result of conversations with the VESSWIC veterinary staff and our international advisors, the board unanimously voted to make a donation to VESSWIC to purchase 250 mg of Ivermectin to help treat the elephants in Sumatra.  Having accurate weights is critical for determining the proper dosage of any medication.  The portable scales that AES purchased last year will be put to good use in determining the weight of the elephants, so they are given the correct amount of dewormer.

Sometimes it can be very tricky to get this intelligent animal to take medication.  If they can taste it, they will often just spit it out.  One way to make sure the medication is taken is to hide it in a favorite food.  In Sumatra, they use fruits such as bananas and pineapples to help mask the taste of the dewormer.

Regional Asian Elephant Veterinary Workshop

Chris Reifschneider

In 2011, AES received a grant from the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s Asian Elephant Conservation Fund to support important educational opportunities for veterinarians from Asian elephant range countries. On March 27- 30,2012, AES president attended the Regional Asian Elephant Veterinary Workshop in Banda Aceh, Sumatra, along with our international advisor, Heidi Riddle.

Thirty-five veterinarians representing the Asian elephant range countries of India, Sri Lanka, Thailand, Laos, Nepal, Myanmar, Malaysia (Sabah) and Indonesia attended this four day workshop.  Veterinarians from Germany, Japan, and Singapore also participated. The goals of the workshop are to provide in-country veterinarians with a unique opportunity for building their own capacity by sharing experiences and gaining valuable knowledge about the health and well-being of Asian elephants. Most importantly, the workshop provides an opportunity to network with others in the region to ensure continued collaborations long after everyone has returned home.

The first day of the workshop was a full day of presentations. The topics included status and health care management of elephants in Myanmar, Providing care to elephants in Lao PDR, and Health management of captive elephants in Sumatra.

The second day began with a presentation followed by hands-on ultrasound demonstrations with six elephants, at the campus of the Syiah Kuala University. Workshop attendees were given an opportunity to ultrasound either a male or female elephant, and better understand the interpretation of the anatomical images.  In addition to the workshop attendees, veterinary students from the University’s Veterinary College also participated in this unique learning session.

Day three was one to celebrate.  We have all attended conferences where the attendees seem to fade with the passing days of papers, especially the long days of presentations.  Not at this workshop!   The presentations began at 8 a.m. and concluded at 7 p.m. and everyone was as alert and tuned in at 7 p.m. as they were when the day started. The presenters included veterinarians that AES has supported in various projects, such as Dr. Christopher Stremme from Sumatra-Indonesia, and Drs. Arun Zachariah and Kushal Sarma from India. These veterinarians have substantial experience with elephants and they understand the importance of sharing information with their peers.  It was a wonderful opportunity to visit in person with Drs. Stremme, Zachariah, and Sarma and hear the progress of their work.

The fourth and final day of the workshop was another hands-on demonstration with the elephants at the University campus.  This session covered foot care, methods of weighing (including a demonstration with one of the scales donated by AES), conducting a thorough general examination, and injection protocols. Once again the University veterinary students also participated.

Overall, the workshop was a success and was appreciated by all of the attendees. It was also a wonderful opportunity to meet veterinarians who are representatives of governmental and nongovernmental organizations from the various Asian elephant range countries. This workshop will certainly lead to further collaborative opportunities in the future, as we are most effective when we work together for the same objective of helping Asian elephants survive the challenges they face every day.

Update from Sumatra: veterinary work, calves born to Olive and Yuni

Vanessa Gagne

Our latest update from Sumatra is a testimony to the scope of happenings one encounters when working for and with Asian elephants.

Collaboration and learning are keywords in our campaign to help both captive and wild Asian elephants. In the past couple of months, Christopher’s group hosted Dr. Satya P. G. Bhalla, who is a veterinarian from Corbett Tiger Reserve.  Dr. Bhalla came to volunteer and guest lecture to the veterinary faculty in Banda Aceh about conservation medicine and veterinary needs in his national park.  Dr. Sonja Luz, a wildlife veterinarian from Singapore, who works on many conservation projects in south Asia and Africa, was also a guest lecturer addressing conservation medicine, reptile husbandry and medical care.  

Facilitating the exchange of information and knowledge is an important part of improving our care of not only Asian elephants but all wildlife, and we certainly appreciate their extra effort in this direction.

Unfortunately, not all AES news is as positive and encouraging. Several weeks ago, a morning began with the call that’s never wanted:  Edi, one of the elephants at ECC Holiday Resort, was found dead.  Christopher rushed to perform a necropsy, but the cause of death was not clearly revealed, so now we wait for the results from the lab.  Prompt necropsies help us learn and expand our knowledge for ever-improving care. None the less, it is never easy to lose an elephant, especially when it is sudden and unexpected.  We share in their loss.

In the beginning of December an emergency call came in from Aceh, as one of the male elephants in musth had attacked and seriously injured its mahout.  The elephant was out of control, attacking people and cars on the main road. A standing sedation had to be administered from a distance using a blow pipe.  The elephant’s long tusks were trimmed for safety and he was secured with a 20’ chain to a tree with easy access to food and water.  Until he is no longer in musth, the elephant will still be restrained in the forest and looked after by the mahouts. His mahouts will move his location daily by luring him with bananas so that the chain can be removed and he is then relocated to an area with fresh fodder.

Tusk trim on sedated bull

Tusk trim on sedated bull

Were it not for the vets and their ability to help bring this musth bull under control, the outcome would surely be grim!  We so appreciate these people who make it possible for such animals to be taken care of for their own safety as well as the people in the area.

Now some very happy news!    In November, Olive gave birth to her first calf, a very tiny (for an elephant!) but agile and healthy little girl.  On December 4th, Yuni at Tangkahan gave birth to a male calf weighing about 70 kg.  It is Yuni’s first calf and she is taking very good care of her baby and both mother and calf are in good health.  Now the two mothers often stay together, giving the calves the chance to play and socialize.  These are the moments that lift our hearts and reaffirm why we care so very much.

And it’s not always just about elephants.  During Christopher’s last visit to Aceh, he examined a tiger, which had been captured in central Aceh after killing some cattle and two villagers in the past three months.  The tiger was sedated for a general health examination and found to be in good health and, according to his teeth, was estimated to be 6 to 7 years old.  At the time of Christopher’s writing, the tiger was still in quarantine, while options for release in a remote forest area are considered and evaluated.   This is an example of people working primarily with one species and being in the position to help others. Thanks to Christopher and the Vesswic veterinarians, and here’s to a very good 2011 for our Sumatran friends, both two and four-legged!
 

 

 

 

 

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

 

Scales for VESSWIC

Vanessa Gagne

In view of the USFWS funding to keep ECC Way Kambas elephants and mahouts in the field for the next year, our Board voted to use funds we thought might be needed for that work to instead purchase two portable scales for Vesswic’s use in caring for elephants in the Way Kambas ECC and other camps in Sumatra.  We know this equipment will be appreciated and well cared for, and, without a doubt, the hours saved in measuring elephants to formulate an estimate of weight will be available for other constructive activities.  

A portable scale allows elephants to step up on a base, stand still for just a few seconds then walk off.  Such a scale provides accuracy and efficiency for safe and effective dosing.

Harris, the rescued bull

Vanessa Gagne

We want to share with you the story of a special elephant in Sumatra named Harris, who was provided care during a visit to Aceh to see the elephants there.  

At 18 years old Harris was alone, under nourished and full of parasites, and his future appeared dim. Harris was moved to one of the elephant camps where the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (Vesswic) provides medical care for elephants, in agreement with the Sumatran government.

Harris in his previous location

Harris in his previous location

Eighteen months later, Harris is now a healthy elephant who enjoys the mental stimulation and physical activity of forest patrols, where he helps keep his wild counterparts safe from poachers and illegal settlers, whose presence hasten the fragmentation and loss of the wild elephants' home.  

Please read the full story of Harris  and see how your support through a donation can help individuals and at the same time contribute to conservation efforts.

Harris with his mahout, Saparudin

Harris with his mahout, Saparudin

 

 

 

Update from the field

Vanessa Gagne

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

"Hello from Sumatra,

We are just back from Aceh yesterday and after the problems with some terrorist groups in some of the remote areas in central and west Aceh have calmed down and the security situation has improved, we were able and allowed again to visit all CRU's for regular health checks and treatments of the CRU elephants.  The trip lasted for a week, during which we visited the Aceh elephant training centre and its satellite in north east Aceh and three CRUs in central and west Ache, conducted health checks and treatments (dewormings, wound treatments, etc.) for a total of 38 elephants.

Like always since the past year we were accompanied and assisted by Dr. Arman Sayuti from the veterinary faculty of the Banda Aceh University.  Since he has started to volunteer with our program on a regular basis, he significantly has developed his experience and knowledge about elephant health care and management and, hopefully, on the long run can further help to develop better expertise and education about veterinary needs for conservation and welfare of endangered wildlife in Aceh.

Best wishes from Sumatra,

Christopher"


We think this update highlights some amazing aspects of the CRU program in Sumatra:

  • Efficiency in treatment means many elephants are provided care in a reasonable period of time.
  • Not only the mahouts are developing their skills, but also Dr. Arman Sayuti, who will, in turn, be able to teach others.
  • Vesswic and Dr. Stremme make the very most of every dollar and are very appreciative of our support.
Obtaining body measurements for weight estimation

Obtaining body measurements for weight estimation

An accurate weight is needed to determine a safe and effective dosage for many medications. Vets and mahouts work together to measure an elephant (top picture) in order to estimate its weight for the proper dose of deworming medication (bottom picture).   However, weights arrived at by the measurement formula vary among age groups of elephants so it is not always accurate.  In addition, from the photo you can imagine how time consuming it is to measure each elephant.

Hiding dewormer in bananas!

Hiding dewormer in bananas!

A portable scale allows elephants to step up on a base, stand still for just a few seconds then walk off.  Such a scale provides accuracy and efficiency for safe and effective dosing, and we would like to provide this tool to the CRU program.   

The cost per scale, including delivery to Sumatra is $3100, and our goal is to provide two scales. We hope you will consider making a gift toward this purchase. Should you wish to give $3100 for one scale, we will have a plaque made to put on the Pelicase to acknowledge your donation!

Please read our project story and please visit our website, www.asianelephantsupport.org or contact us to learn more.

 

 

Support for VESSWIC and Elephants Helping Elephants (CRUs)

Vanessa Gagne

CRU Patrolling Way Kambas boundaries

CRU Patrolling Way Kambas boundaries

 

  History, Geography & Partners in this effort:

 The Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (Vesswic) is a registered non-profit organization founded in 2003 by a group of Sumatran veterinarians with a special interest in wildlife medicine and conservation. To legally conduct its activities, Vesswic has signed a MoU (memorandum of understanding) with the national Agency for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation (PHKA), which provides Vesswic the legal authority on behalf of the Government of Indonesia to implement its programs and activities in Sumatra.

Home destroyed by wild elephants in Way Kambas

Home destroyed by wild elephants in Way Kambas

 This project operates in and around the Way Kambas National Park on the southeastern coast of the Lampung province. Way Kambas National Park is home to about 10% of the remaining 2,000 - 2,500 wild Sumatran elephants. The Way Kambas Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) is currently home to 62 captive elephants. The ECC was established in 1985 with the goal of reducing human-elephant conflict (HEC). Wild elephants were captured from areas of HEC between 1985 and 2000, but the capture program ended in 2000 because the government authorities recognized that the capture strategy did not solve the HEC problem. Unfortunately, the government funds allocated for ECC maintenance and captive elephant care was insufficient and there was no clear strategy for managing these captive elephants. The result was poor management, lack of food and medical attention for the elephants, insufficient staff qualification and training, lack of activity and socialization of the elephants, and ultimately poor condition and sickness in many elephants.

CRU mahouts and their charges

CRU mahouts and their charges

 In 2006, at the request of the Way Kambas National Park, the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (Vesswic), through its Elephant Health Care Program (EHCP) began providing technical and financial assistance to the Way Kambas ECC to improve the health and management of their captive elephants. The program successfully utilizes captive elephants for HEC mitigation and forest patrols. The Conservation Response Unit (CRU) program integrates wild and captive elephants as the forest patrols made by the captive elephants help to protect their wild counterparts. In addition, the captive elephants benefit from interactions with their mahout and the exercise and stimulation of outings into the forest where there is an opportunity to feed on a wide variety of natural food plants. This program also utilizes the mahouts and captive elephants to address HEC mitigation and education. Finally, the mahouts have the opportunity to develop their elephant care skills, to become educated and engaged conservation workers, and to serve their people in resolving conflict.

CRU elephants herding wild elephants out of HEC area

CRU elephants herding wild elephants out of HEC area

 Since the Way Kambas Conservation Response Unit (CRU) began operating, it has significantly contributed to the reduction of HEC and habitat encroachment. It has improved the health of the captive elephants taking part in this program, and has built the knowledge and skill of the mahouts involved. Therefore, the continuation of these activities is important for both the wild and captive elephants of Way Kambas National Park. External funding is required as Way Kambas National Park and its Elephant Conservation Center are not able to provide sufficient resources to ensure the continuation of this important and successful program.

 Asian Elephant Support is pleased to partner with Vesswic, the Way Kambas National Park, and the Elephant Managers Association (EMA) in this undertaking. Our initial $4,500 donation will help keep the Conservation Response Unit in the field for a few more months. This is an exceptionally well run effort making positive progress for both wild elephant conservation and improved care of captive elephants.

CRU patrolling Way Kambas boundaries

CRU patrolling Way Kambas boundaries

 Going Forward:

 We would like to be a more sustainable supporter of this effort as it is one that is definitely making a difference for both captive and wild Sumatran elephants. In addition, the veterinarian group always needs additional medical supplies and the addition of two portable scales would help immensely in their care for this large number of elephants. Knowing the weight of an elephant is vital for medicating, establishing proper diets, following the progression of pregnancies, and as an alert to possible illness. While weight can be estimated via formulas based usually on shoulder height and chest girth, none are precise for all age groups and estimation inaccuracies can vary greatly, which is not a good scenario when medications need to be prescribed. In addition, weight estimation is time consuming, and with 62 elephants in Way Kambas and other elephant camps for which Vesswic provides care, it is easy to see that this ‘wish list' item is not frivolous!