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Projects in Sumatra, Indonesia

Filtering by Tag: VESSWIC

7th Indonesian Mahout Workshop

Vanessa Gagne

A wonderful group photo of all workshop participants, until next year!

A wonderful group photo of all workshop participants, until next year!

The 7th Indonesian Mahout Workshop hosted by FOKMAS (Indonesian Mahout Communication Forum) was held from February 24-27, 2015, at the Minas government elephant training center  located in the province of Riau in Sumatra, Indonesia. Seventy participants attended the workshop and represented most of the Sumatran government elephant camps, Conservation Response Units (CRUs), and other elephant patrol units in Sumatra, as well as several zoos and safari parks from Sumatra, Java, and Bali. The majority of participants were mahouts, but some camp managers and veterinarians from private facilities also attended.

The Indonesian Mahout Workshops were initiated in 2006 at the Seblat government elephant conservation center in Bengkulu province (Sumatra) to provide an opportunity for mahouts to share information, strengthen their professionalism, and influence elephant conservation in Indonesia more effectively.

Banner showing all the sponsors that helped make the workshop possible

Banner showing all the sponsors that helped make the workshop possible

Several NGOs, including the International Elephant Foundation, Asian Elephant Support, and the Elephant Managers Association, provided workshop support to assist this professional training opportunity for mahouts. General issues discussed during the workshop included problems mahouts encounter in their elephant work and habitat conservation efforts, finding solutions to improve the care and management of Indonesia’s wild and captive elephants, and means to create an information network with colleagues throughout Asia. FOKMAS and the Mahout Workshops are supported by Indonesian government conservation agencies

During the first two days of the workshop several presentations and an informal hands-on session were given by visiting colleagues from the Myanma Timber Enterprise (MTE). The group from Myanmar included 2 MTE elephant veterinarians, an MTE manager, and a senior mahout (Singaung) from an MTE timber camp.  The Indonesian mahouts were very attentive to the presentations from their Myanmar counterparts, and good discussions resulted from the interactions.  The participants from Myanmar were impressed with the level of interest from the Indonesian mahouts and expressed the intention to develop similar meeting and training opportunities for mahouts in Myanmar.  As you may remember, Asian Elephant Support has helped fund both veterinarian and mahout workshops in Myanmar.

In addition to presentations, training in field navigation using maps and GPS units was conducted during the Workshop. This training was divided into two parts: theoretical background and hands-on practice in locations within the Minas camp area. All mahouts were instructed about various skills to deal with wildlife monitoring and illegal activities such as data collection and recording, GPS instruction, human-wildlife conflict mitigation techniques, and community relations. Building capacity of the mahouts with skills for improved forest protection and wildlife conservation also promotes improved job performance of these individuals.  

The final part of the Mahout Workshop included discussion among the participants about improving elephant facilities and management in Indonesia, and a wrap up of the field navigation and GPS sessions.

Lecture time

Lecture time

These Mahout Workshops and interactions with fellow mahouts from around Asia are very important for the mahout staff across Indonesia.  There is a need to continue these regional professional exchanges and training as this has resulted in positive outcomes.  In Indonesia, the government has requested input from FOKMAS about mitigating elephant conflict.  FOKMAS is currently in the planning stages for the next Mahout Workshop and will continue hosting mahout training modules so this level of staff can be more effective participants in elephant conservation initiatives in Indonesia.

Asian Elephant Support appreciates the opportunity we have had to be a part of this educational effort thanks to the support of our donors.  So that we will be able to help fund future workshops, please consider making a donation.  Our thanks!

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.

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.

 

VESSWIC 3 Year committment

Vanessa Gagne

AES has been working with the Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC) since 2010 to improve the health of the captive population of elephants in Sumatra, Indonesia.

VESSWIC's goal is to contribute to the conservation of Sumatran wildlife by providing various kinds of veterinary expertise and services. To achieve their goal, a wide range of conservation activities, projects, programs, and collaborators are needed. Sustainability of these efforts is critical, and sustainability requires regular and dependable funding.

AES has supported VESSWIC with specific needs for general veterinary care, elephant patrols, veterinary and mahout workshops, and urgent care for orphaned calves.

Now we are pleased to announce that we have made a commitment to VESSWIC of $5,000 annually for three consecutive years beginning January 2014.

Sustainability is a key strategic objective for all organizations, and a reliable source of income helps us make long-term commitments to projects such as VESSWIC to produce sustainable change over time. Some examples of welfare and conservation efforts that require long-term commitments include:

  • Regular veterinary care requires expertise and regular visits over extended periods.
  • Training and professional development can require hands-on and academic learning on an annual basis. Care for an orphaned calf may extend years after the initial emergency support.
  • Animal hospitals require ongoing operational costs.
  • Effective elephant patrol units require skilled mahouts and healthy and well-trained elephants that can patrol regularly to make a difference long term.


 

 

 

Raju, the orphaned calf

Chris Reifschneider

Emaciated Raju

Emaciated Raju

Raju was not even a month old when he became an orphan. With an increase in the number of humans and a decrease in elephant habitat in Sumatra, Indonesia, it is very possible that Raju’s mother was shot and killed as a result of human-elephant conflict (HEC). Our partners at Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC) rushed to the village to provide assistance for this tiny calf, which is not an easy task due to the remote location of many villages. Raju initially began to gain strength after receiving IV fluids and was tolerating the milk replacement. However, the harsh reality is that with an animal that young, the chances of survival are low and unfortunately, he did not survive.

Racju receiving the IV

Racju receiving the IV

HEC is a problem that continues to increase throughout Asia. While it is taking a toll on the current elephant population, it is also affecting the next generation. More and more calves are being orphaned as the number of conflicts increase.

By losing their mothers at an early age these orphans have an uphill battle to survive and calves as young as Raju have little chance of survival. HEC is an extremely complicated issue and it will take a holistic approach to achieve results, but the importance of this battle is apparent not only for the current population, but for generations to come.

Stay tuned for more information on efforts to mitigate HEC including the projects that AES supports with your help.