Conflicts Between Wild Elephants and Humans on the Rise in Riau
Wild elephants often go on a rampage in several villages of Riau province, and the latest such incident took place in Rokan Hulu district.
“We feel terrorized by a herd of adult elephants that often wander into our plantation areas. This incident is not the first of its kind,” Seroja village head Muhammad Dain said here.
A herd of seven elephants went on a rampage in the settlement and plantation areas of Kepenuhan Barat and Seroja villages in Kepenuhan sub-district, Rokan Hulu.
Tens of hectares of oil palm plantation were damaged by the herd, while three elephants entered human settlement areas.
“We have asked the local authorities to help us handle this problem,” Dain stated.
Julianto, an inhabitant of Pasir Pandak, said he was worried about the elephants’ rampage and was afraid to go to oil palm plantations.
“I am afraid because the elephants often come in the morning and afternoon. Therefore, I go to the plantation at noon,” he noted.
According to World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) data, 15 elephants were killed in human-elephant conflicts in Riau last year.
Shrinkage of elephant habitat is considered to be one of the main factors that triggered human-elephant conflicts.
The population of Sumatran elephants, the smallest of the Asian elephants, was estimated to be between 2,400 and 2,800 in 2007, down 35 percent from the 5,000 elephants recorded in 1992.
Among the factors that led to a decline in the elephant population were deforestation, poaching and human encroachment of the animal’s habitat.
Human-elephant conflicts also often occur in the Aceh, Lampung and Jambi provinces of Sumatra Island, claiming the lives of both humans and elephants. During the 2000-07 period, such conflicts led to the death of 42 people and 100 elephants in Sumatra.Filed under: The Nation