Poor Water System Threatens Sumatran Elephants` Survival

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  • Leonardo DiCaprio and Sumatran Elephants at Mount Leuser National Park, Aceh, Indonesia on March 27, 2016.

    Leonardo DiCaprio and Sumatran Elephants at Mount Leuser National Park, Aceh, Indonesia on March 27, 2016.

    TEMPO.CO, Palembang - The number of wild and domesticated elephants in Sumatera may dwindle in coming years. Sriwijaya University Professor Robiyanto H. Susanto said one of the reasons is poor water system in forests, peatland, and industrial forest concessions.

    "We need hydrology revitalization by reopening canals that have been closed off permanently," he said on Friday, February 24, 2017.

    In the sub-region elephant training center in Padang Sugihan as well as in palm oil plantation areas—in Banyuasin, for example, many canals were closed to secure water supply.

    Robiyanto said this is wrong, as water needs to be refreshed or washed. "In sulfated acidic lands, the water needs to be washed by rain."

    In a discussion initiated by the Coordination Forum for Watershed Management of South Sumatera (Fordas South Sumatera), Robiyanto explained that the decline of water surface will jeopardize elephants' survival. Their habitat is compromised by the loss of food sources and natural plants.

    Additionally, a receding water surface level will facilitate encroachers and poachers to enter the elephants' habitat, endangering their population further.

    Today, there are 30 tame elephants in Padang Sugihan as well as dozens of wild elephants, including a herd of wild ones living without chains.

    PARLIZA HENDRAWAN