Sumatran Elephant (Elephas maximus ssp. sumatranus) is the subspecies of Asian Elephant, one of two species of elephant in the world. They dwell in lowland forest of Sumatra in province of Riau, West Sumatra, and Lampung, most of it is outside a protected area. Sumatran Elephants’ weight varies from 2.25 to 5.5 tons per individual. This huge mammal can grow up to 2 to 3 m from shoulder to toe. Sumatran Elephants explore long road while looking for foods to nourish their bodies. Elephants do not sleep much. From their consumption on roots, grasses, fruit, and bark, an adult elephant as much as 300 pounds (136 kilograms) of food, they can “produce” poop around 50 kg in a single day.
The status of Sumatran Elephant has been escalated from endangered into critically endangered by International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List in 2012. This mostly because the Sumatran Elephants have significant reduction in population number as indicated by the loss of over 69% of its potential habitat in just one generation (the last 25 years). The greatest threats to Sumatran elephants are habitat loss, fragmentation, and degradation; illegal killing (e.g. for their ivory and other products or in retaliation for human-elephant conflicts); and the loss of genetic viability resulting from small population size and isolation.
What do we do?
- Protect elephants and their habitat: Set-up two teams of SMART patrol unit specifically targetting illegal killing of elephant inside the park in Way Kambas National Park. A wildlife crime investigation also conducted using DNA evidence as crime evidence in collaboration with Eijkman Institute.
- Reduce human-elephant conflict: our Crop Protection Unit has started since 2002 and Problem Animal Records (PARs) since 2000, benefit from this long running conflict mitigation strategy we have developed a sustainable mitigation apporaches. The approaches make use of villagers own initiatives and local government spending, where our expert in the field guide in best practices.
- Conduct research on elephants to help inform conservation strategies: Using fecal DNA we monitor elephant numbers in Way Kambas NP. According to our study in 2010, it reveals that elephant population in Way Kambas is 247 individuals with a range of estimates of 220 to 278 individuals. Previously, we estimated elephant population to be 180 elephant individuals back in 2002. The data suggest that the population has remained stable or possibly increased.