In our February 2012 newsletter, we introduced Aswin Bangun, an Indonesian Forestry Department employee. In 1999, Aswin graduated from the Agricultural Institute in Bogor (Java) with a degree in forestry. He began his career with the Forestry Police in the Department of Forestry in 2000, and was assigned to the Nature Conservation Agency (BKSDA) in Bengkulu province. During his nine years with the Forestry Department, he was assigned to the Rhino Protection Unit in Kerinci Seblat National Park, and was Manager of the Conservation Response Unit (CRU) in Seblat. During his tenure in Seblat, Aswin was responsible for the oversight of the CRU elephant back patrols, which use trained elephants, their mahouts (handlers) and forest rangers to monitor protected areas. In 2008, Aswin was transferred to the central Forest Department office in Jakarta to address forestry issues on the national level. While working in Seblat, Aswin became very interested in elephant conservation and decided to study human-elephant conflict (HEC) issues in order to better understand how to address the problem.
As part of AES’s goal to provide financial assistance for the education of deserving individuals working for elephant conservation in Asian range countries, we provided a scholarship grant in 2011 for Aswin to complete his Master’s degree in Forest Conservation.
We are pleased to announce that in early June of 2012, Aswin completed his degree. The title of his thesis is the "Relationship between level of encroachment and human elephant conflict in the Seblat forest." This degree will assist him in his future work to improve elephant conservation in Bengkulu province and throughout Sumatra. We thank Aswin for his dedication to all of Sumatra's wildlife and we look forward to working with him in the future.