|GOOD NEWS! ELEPHANTS RELEASED
Good news! Eight of 10 endangered Sumatran elephants that had been captured by government translocation teams were recently released into Tesso Nilo National Park, seven weeks after they were found chained to trees without food or water in central Riau, Indonesia. However, a firm commitment to secure their habitat is still needed.
WWF Activists Spoke Out
Nearly 38,000 people from around the world signed a WWF petition urging the Indonesian government to end all logging, encroachment, and conversion of elephant forests in Riau, and asking the government to expand Tesso Nilo National Park. Thank you!
The Elephants' Saga
Local forestry officials had captured the elephants after they had damaged crops and homes near Libo Forest. WWF, which provided daily care and medical treatment for the elephants after their discovery, accompanied the authorities as they released the elephants to ensure that the release was done safely.
Of the 10 elephants found on March 21, en eight-year-old male died of an acute infection and a pregnant female escaped after four weeks. The remaining eight were released into Tesso Nilo National Park in good health after intensive medical care provided by WWF, but in late May WWF learned that one of the females that had been treated for tetanus died not far from where she had been released.
Implementation Needed Soon for Tesso Nilo Expansion
WWF is concerned that Tesso Nilo is not a suitable release site as it is too small to provide habitat for more elephants. WWF fears that the release of the elephants into the park without an expansion and a plan to stop encroachment will simply shift the human-elephant conflict to other villages near Tesso Nilo.
Fortunately, good news came at the end of May when the Indonesian Ministry of Forestry and the government of Riau Province publicly committed to expand Tesso Nilo from 94,000 acres to 247,000 acres, as WWF activists had urged. This will provide much larger habitat for the elephants and help ensure that future conflicts with humans can be reduced. WWF urges the governments to officially decree and begin implementing the park expansion as soon as possible.
WWF applauds the quick action of the Indonesian authorities in showing a strong commitment to protect remaining elephant habitats in Riau and also prosecuting those who have killed elephants or destroyed elephant habitats. Recent police seizures of ivory in Medan, North Sumatra, are a good indication of this commitment. However, we are still calling on the Indonesian government to adopt and enforce legitimate human-elephant policy and protocol from here on out.