Fauna Fights Back

If you wanted a sign of just how rampant and widespread deforestation is in Indonesia, you only have to look to Sumatra, where tigers and elephants, their habitats fast being decimated, are encroaching into areas where humans now live and work, and are killing people.

This week brought the latest grizzly news of human deaths from encounters with such wild and native creatures – one man, an illegal logger, died after being mauled to death by a Sumatran tiger, which are critically endangered, while another was trampled to death by a stampeding herd of elephants – also at risk of extinction – that had entered a village on the island.

The two latest fatalities bring the death toll to 10 in just over a month, an alarming statistic made worse by the fact that these incidences are likely to rise in the coming months and years, as ever-increasing swathes of jungle are cleared for commercial activity or for the sale of timber.

Sumatra joins Kalimantan and Papua as regions of Indonesia that are suffering from age-old practices that permit circumventing of regulations in order to profit from timber, and land-clearance.

There is no apparent political will to tackle this severe and past-urgent problem that has the disquieting side-effect of dramatically contributing to global warming – because of deforestation, this country is the third-largest emitter of carbon dioxide, massive quantities of which are released from the soil as vegetation is uprooted.

And so while the felling and clearing continues, the ferocious creatures of the land who are also being wiped out will for now continue to fight back.

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