Law enforcement needed for elephant killings in Tesso Nilo

EoF News / 07 June 2012

EoF News (PEKANBARU) — Another wild Sumatran elephant was found dead in Tesso Nilo National Park, in Riau Province, increasing the dead toll to six elephants in recent three months. The latest elephant was found dead in Sungai Tapa near the Park’s Flying Squad trained elephants camp on 31 May, reports said. Kupin Simbolon, head of Tesso Nilo National Park Office, regretted the killings of elephants which he considered theses incidents were systematic, reported.

“This elephant weren’t dead due to elderly age, but it was strongly indicated to be poisoned. Throughout year 2012, there are 5 wild elephants found dead,” Kupin added. "We believe that the pattern of elephant killings is systematic, possibly there are other killed wild elephants somewhere out there that we can’t figure them out. “

EoF understands that several killings of elephants have occurred in recent years, but there are no results of probe by the law enforcers. It was the sixth wild elephant found dead in Tesso Nilo landscape alarming potential severe conflicts of human-elephants in the area where encroachment for palm oil plantations plagued the conservation site.

According to WWF, at least 28,000 hectares of forest in the national park had been converted illegally to palm oil plantations by encroachers where weak law enforcement became key factor inciting further deforestation.

On 6 March 2012 villagers of Pangkalan Gondai, near Tesso Nilo National Park, found a carcass of a wild elephant in the bank of Mamahan River inside the park. The adult male elephant had no more tusk as its head wounded with a hole.

On 8 March, there were three elephants that found dead in Tesso Nilo. A male elephant was found dead in the river where his head was buried in the sand and there was a hole on it meaning that his tusk was taken away by murderers.

BBKSDA Riau Natural Resources Conservancy Agency and the police investigated the killing and there was no any progress on the probe, EoF learned. There were indications that the elephant slaughterings related to pouching of elephant tusk for making money or an excess of human-elephant conflicts as the area mostly planted illegally for palm oil by encroachers and illegal loggers.

“The police and BBKSDA should seriously probe all the slaughtering of elephants and nab the perpetrators due to this could be organized crime to worsen deforestation in the area,” said Hariansyah Usman, executive director of Walhi Riau.