Indonesia: Sumatra elephants' habitat continues to shrink: NGO

Antara 17 Feb 17;

Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - The habitat of Sumatra elephants (Elephas Maximus Sumatranus), which continues to shrink, has sparked more conflict between the endangered species and humans, an NGO working in the field of nature conservation has said.

"Conflict (with humans) has occurred more often because the habitat of the elephants has continued to shrink. In the latest incident, wild elephants roaming the Gajah Makmur village led to a feeling of restlessness among the villagers," the program coordinator of the Nature Conservation Alliance (Akar) Network, Ali Akbar, said here on Friday.

An investigation conducted by the Akar Network found that the corridor that is the elephants roaming track in the Seblat Nature Tourism Park has increasingly shrunk due to changing patterns of land use.

The cultivation rights awarded to some plantations and illegal land clearing have led to a situation where elephants feel annoyed in their own habitat.

"The wild elephants entering the village came from Seblat Park, having passed through the oil palm plantation of PT Alno to HPT Air Rami, but then found themselves trapped in Air Rami," he explained.

Ali argued pointed out to the statement of the Bengkulu-Lamping nature conservation agency, which claimed that the protected species could not return to the Seblat elephant training center due to forest encroachment at Air Rami production forest.

Based on investigation on the ground, Ali revealed that the encroachers had left the site and currently there are some 10 rubber farmers with less than 20 hectares of planting area in the region.

"The elephants have often passed through the farmers land and no one disturbed them. But this time they had entered the Gajah Makmur village and that sparked anxiety among the villagers," he added.

He suspected that the endangered species could not pass PT Alno plantation area to return to the Seblat training center because they tried to guard the plantation area with fire.

"We need a solution to save the remaining elephants to avoid further conflict with humans," Ali stressed.

Previously, an official of the Bengkulu-Lampung nature conservation agency (BKSDA), Said Jauhari, had said that dozens of elephants were trapped at the Air Rami production forest and could not return to Seblat due to illegal land clearing in the area.

Said estimated that there are some 30 wild elephants in Air Rami.(*)

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