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Projects in Sumatra, Indonesia

Filtering by Tag: Human Elephant Conflict

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

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 - Snare Victim Yekti

Chris Reifschneider

In our January 2014 newsletter, AES announced our 3 year commitment to the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC). We would like to share an update on a couple of elephant projects from our VESSWIC partners.

The Sumatran elephant is listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as critically endangered, but every birth gives us hope for the future of this species.  On January 16, 2014 at the Way Kambas Elephant Conservation Center, the elephant Mela, gave birth to a healthy male calf weighing approximately 200 pounds.  This was Mela’s second calf.Unfortunately, she attacked and killed her first calf in 2011 immediately after it was born. This time she was a bit nervous, but remained reasonably calm towards the calf. After a short time she accepted the calf and allowed it to nurse. Two months later, she has adapted well to her role as a mother and the calf is doing well.

Back in November 2013, a female calf was rescued from the wild with a serious wire snare injury to her front left leg. VESSWIC provided the medical supplies for her treatment and is also providing food and milk supplements.  They are happy to report that the calf, named Yekti, is also doing well.

Human-elephant conflict (HEC) is still a growing problem for both humans and elephant in Sumatra, Indonesia.  In January VESSWIC Elephant Healthcare Program veterinarians assisted the Nature Conservation Agency and Frankfurt Zoological Society and fitted two wild elephants with GPS collars.  This is part of an HEC monitoring program that is being conducted in the Bukit Tiga Puluh forest area in the province of Jambi.

By working together, we can make a difference in the health, welfare, and conservation of elephants in Asian range countries.  AES is proud to support these dedicated individuals who are working hard every day.

 

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.

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!