Indonesian Forestry Ministry to compensate victims of human-animal conflicts

Antara 26 May 11;

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - The forestry ministry plans to compensate victims of human-animal conflicts which often occur on Sumatra Island.

"We in fact don`t have a special budget for this, but people who become victims in conflicts with wild animals, deserve compensation," Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said here Wednesday after visiting the Elephant Training Center at Way Kambas National park, eastern Lampung, southern Sumatra.

The number of conflicts between Sumatran elephants (elephas maximus sumatraensis) and local residents has increased lately.

In 2010, there were a total of 100 conflicts involving herds of 5-35 elephants.

This year, there have been 17 conflicts, excluding successful efforts to drive away wild elephants back to their habitat at the national parks.

Ahmad Suyudi, the head of Banjar Asri Village, which is located next to the Way Kambas National Park (TNWK), said his village`s residents have suffered huge losses because elephants often eat up their crops.

According to date from an integrated team to handle the human-elephant conflicts in East Lampung district, around 174 hectares of farming areas located at 22 villages surrounding TNWK, were destroyed by elephants in 2010, inflicting material losses worth Rp2.61 billion.

The 125,000-ha TNWK is a home for around 200-250 elephants.

The forestry ministry`s Director General for Forest Protection and Nature Conservation Darori said the ministry has various efforts to deal with the human and wild animal conflicts on Sumatra Island.

Editor: Priyambodo RH

No End to Human-Animal War: WWF
Fidelis E. Satriastanti Jakarta Globe 29 May 11;

The government’s plan to compensate victims of human-animal conflicts is a positive move but will not put an end to the phenomenon, a activist from the World Wildlife Fund says.

Samsuardi, head of WWF Indonesia’s human-elephant conflict mitigation program, said on Sunday that compensation for damage to property or crops as a result of wild animals encroaching would only apply to conservation areas.

“It’s easy to talk about compensation if elephants originate from conservation areas such as the Way Kambas National Park, in which case they can at least be lured back to the park,” he said.

“But it’s different with elephants not coming from conservation areas. These elephants run amok in villages almost every day, so you can imagine how vulnerable people in those areas would be.”

He was responding to an announcement on Wednesday by Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan that people who suffered losses as a result of conflicts with wild animals would receive compensation, even though the ministry has not been allocated funding for such contingencies.

In Sumatra, 17 incidents of elephants encroaching into human settlements have so far been reported this year. Last year, there were 100 such incidents involving herds of as many as 35 elephants.

In East Lampung district, home to 22 villages near Way Kambas, elephants damaged 174 hectares of rice paddies last year and caused estimated losses of Rp 2.61 billion ($300,000).

Samsuardi argued the elephants were not always to blame for the conflicts. He said that in Riau province, 80 percent of the elephants had been driven out of conservation areas as a result of habitat destruction.

“If the issue of habitat destruction is not addressed, then the human-animal conflicts won’t end,” he said.

“Take for instance the Balai Raja Wildlife Reserve in Riau’s Duri district. It was initially an 18,000 hectare reserve, but now only 100 hectares of it can be considered adequate habitat for wild animals. As a result, we expect to see a lot of human-animal conflicts there this year.”

Samsuardi said conflicts in Riau so far this year had resulted in damage to two homes and the deaths of three elephants.

Previously, Darori, director general of forest protection and nature conservation at the Forestry Ministry, said his office had taken several steps to reduce the incidence of these conflicts.

He said the steps included increasing the frequency of patrols in areas with a high rate of animal encroachment, particularly in the villages on the periphery of Way Kambas, which has an estimated elephant population of 200 to 250.

Additionally, the ministry has allocated some 20 hectares of land in the area to grow food specifically for the wild elephants, such as bamboo, bananas and sugar cane crops.