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: Way Kambas

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

Portable Scales for VESSWIC

Vanessa Gagne

In 2010 our Board voted to purchase two portable scales for Vesswic’s use in caring for elephants in the Way Kambas ECC and other camps in Sumatra. We are happy to announce that they finally made it to Sumatra. One of  directors,  April Yoder, recently travelled to Sumatra and had the honor of delivering  the scales in person. (Please note that all travel expenses are paid with personal funding and not the foundation.)  

With the addition of two portable scales, VESSWIC veterinarians will now be able to accurately calculate dosages for medication and better monitor the general health of the elephants in the Elephant Conservation Centers.  With an animal as large as an elephant, it can be difficult to visualize weight lost until they have lost a significant amount.  Knowing the baseline weight of an elephant and being able to accurately determine weight on a regular basis can help the VESSWIC veterinarians detect possible health issues much sooner. Also, several babies have been born and it is critical to be able to monitor their weight as they grow to ensure they are healthy.  

The first place we used one of the scales was the EEC in Tangkahan. The mahouts fashioned a platform and each elephant in the camp calmly walked onto the platform to be weighed.  The elephants with calves were a little more challenging. Of course, the babies wanted to stay under mom so it took some coxing to get them to stand next to her, but not on the platform, so we could get her accurate weight.  

Often the weights are calculated by doing field measurements. However, because the results can vary depending on age groups it is not always accurate. To help better understand the correlation between actual weights and field measurements, measurements were also taken on each elephant at the same time.

 

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.

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!