Indonesia: Elephants suffering from malnutrition sent to sanctuary

Apriadi Gunawan The Jakarta Post 10 Dec 16;

After spending over 10 years at the Aras Napal elephant-training center, three elephants suffering from malnutrition were sent to the Barumun Nagari wildlife sanctuary in North Padang Lawas regency, North Sumatra, on Friday in an effort to save their lives.

The transfer of Dion, Aini and Tanti — as the elephants are called — by North Sumatra Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BKSDA) took 23 hours.

The transfer of the one male and two female elephants ran smoothly, Dede Tanjung of the North Sumatra BKSDA responsible for the transfer said. “While in the sanctuary we will improve their nutrition. We will give them additional food, such as pineapples, watermelons and sugarcane,” Dede said.

The agency’s planning, protection and conservation section head Rahmad Saleh Simbolon said the transfer was conducted to save the elephants from starvation.

Earlier this year, an elephant died of malnutrition. He said his office was still investigating the cause of the malnutrition.

The three elephants transferred to the wildlife sanctuary were the last left at the training center, located on the buffer zone of Mount Leuser National Park in Langkat regency.

There were initially five elephants at the center. One died in 2014 after a fight with a wild elephant and another died this year due to malnutrition.

“We will evaluate the center to consider whether or not it is worth maintaining,” said Rahmad on the 17-year-old center.

BKSDA planned to place all the Sumatran elephants under surveillance of the agency in the sanctuary, which currently accommodates eight of them, soon to be 11. The sanctuary is suitable for elephants because it has a grass plantation to supply their food, he added.

The 40-hectare sanctuary, officially launched last month by the Environment and Forestry Ministry, is connected to the Barumun Wildlife Park. The sanctuary is also meant for rare animals in need of serious care, like a Sumatran tiger recently treated after undergoing amputation of its severely wounded leg that had been caught in a trap.

He said due to the decreasing population of Sumatran elephants, the colonies of the protected animals could only be found in Leuser National Park with 28-45 elephants and in South Padang Lawas with two herds of about six to eight elephants each.

The International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) has classified Sumatran elephants as being in critical status.

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