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Projects in Sumatra, Indonesia

Filtering by Tag: ECC

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

Field Update - Bear Rescue

Vanessa Gagne

On February 13, the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC) veterinarians visited the Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) in Minas to assist with the emergency treatment of a juvenile male elephant suffering from chronic weight loss and weakness.  Unfortunately, upon their arrival, the vets found the elephant had already collapsed and had been lying down for two days. After intensive emergency care, the elephant was able to regain its ability to stand up and walk around for a short time, but he sadly passed away the following day.  A post mortem was conducted and besides progressed emaciation, vast and chronic lesions were found in the lung tissues. Additional results from a laboratory are still awaited to determine the exact cause of death.

February 26 - March 1, VESSWIC veterinarians assisted the Nature Conservation Agency in Aceh Province with a sun-bear rescue.   Dr. Anhar Lubis, Aceh Province veterinarian Dr. Rosa, and Dr. Arman, a lecturer from the veterinary faculty in Aceh, joined in this operation.  The male juvenile sun-bear had a serious injury around his left front leg caused by a wire snare in which he had been trapped.  Villagers had released the bear from the snare a few days before the veterinarian team arrived in this remote location and kept him in a small cage. 
 
The infected wound was too serious to allow immediate release back into the wild, so the bear was taken to Nature Conservation Agency headquarters in Banda Aceh for quarantine and further treatment.  Thanks to VESSWIC providing all of the necessary supplies, drugs, and logistics, Dr. Rosa was able to extend the necessary treatment and care for the sun-bear for several weeks.  Currently two more juvenile sun-bears, recently confiscated from illegal trade, are in quarantine, and received intensive health checks and several medical treatments.  The three bears will be released back into the wild when all wounds are healed and the animals are in stable condition. 
 
During the treatment of the bears in quarantine, Dr. Arman and Dr. Arthur invited students from the veterinary faculty to participate in the treatment and handling of the bears. This allowed the veterinary students to get first-hand experience and training in providing the medical needs and the handling of wildlife.

Meet Agam!

Vanessa Gagne

Agam was rescued by local villagers last December after he fell into an abandoned well in the province of Aceh, Sumatra.  It is estimated that he was 10 months old at the time.  

His herd was no longer in the area so Agam wandered around the vicinity of the village after his rescue.  The villagers were concerned that he would not survive without his family, so they contacted the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC).

One of the VESSWIC veterinarians spent several days caring for Agam while they searched for his family.  Unfortunately, they were unsuccessful, so the decision was made to take Agam to the Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) in Saree, Aceh. At the ECC he would have a better chance to survive with proper care and medical attention.  The VESSWIC veterinarians worked with the mahouts and local veterinarians to develop a nutritional food supplement.  While he will eat small amounts of banana, watermelon, grass, and leaves, a majority of his diet consists of this food supplement. Over the next couple of years the amount and composition of the food supplement will change as he grows.

Because of the support of our donors, AES was able to respond immediately to this critical situation and provide funding for Agam. AES has made a commitment to help fund his supplemental feeding for as long as it is necessary, so your continued support is crucial.

In March the VESSWIC veterinarians returned to Saree to check on Agam’s progress. We are happy to report that with your help, he is doing well and continues to thrive.  

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