Riau Elephants on Brink of Extinction due to Habitat Crises

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Markus Wisnu Murti

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  • A number of Sumatran elephants at the Riau Elephant Conservation Center, March 11, 2018. ANTARA/FB Anggoro

    A number of Sumatran elephants at the Riau Elephant Conservation Center, March 11, 2018. ANTARA/FB Anggoro

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) stated that eight original habitats of Sumatran elephants (elephas maximus sumatranus) are currently in dire straits, which put the elephants on the verge of local extinction.

    The natural fortress that originally surrounded these elephants has been diminishing over the years and has caused frequent conflicts between elephants and local residents.

    “Many of [the elephant’s habitats] have shifted function where there are less and less forests and they have changed into palm oil fields and industrial forests. This has stirred inevitable and frequent conflicts between elephants and humans,” said Riau’s WWF program spokesman Syamsidar to Antara in Pekanbaru on Friday.

    He said the organization’s survey suggested that a local extinction would possibly loom over the elephants’ future. 

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    The Rokan Hilir elephant population, he said, had only one elephant left, similar to the situation at Batang Ulak, while the Mahato-Barumun elephant habitat is home to only three remaining elephants. Meanwhile, there are only 5 left in the Balai Raja elephant habitat.

    “The three elephants in Mahato are all female elephants, this poses no chance for them to reproduce again, and that can be called as a local extinction,” said Syamsidar.

    However, the Sumatran elephants’ population left in the Giam Siak Kecil habitat reaches 50-60. Tesso Nilo is home to 30-38 elephants and Southeast Tesso Nilo has 50-60 elephants.

    The WWF spokesman pressed for a collective attempt to minimize or avert future conflicts between elephants and local residents.

    ANTARA