Law enforcement weak, 15 wild elephants killed

EoF News / 23 November 2012

EoF News (PEKANBARU) — Fifteen wild Sumatran elephants had been killed in Riau province since January this year following the deaths of three female elephants in Tesso Nilo forest block as officials believed they were poisoned.

Carcasses of three elephants were found two weeks ago in a logging road near APRIL’s main timber supplier concession in Tesso Nilo forest block, Riau of Sumatra island.

Head of Tesso Nilo National Park, Kuppin Simbolon, Director of Tesso Nilo NP Foundation, Yuliantoni, and Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan said the critically endangered elephants were poisoned.

Three female elephants, ranging from 1, 13 and 30 years of age found dead early this month. "We believe they died a week earlier, from suspected poisoning,” said Kuppin Simbolon, head of the national park as quoted by AFP agency.

He said that the killings were incited by human-elephant conflict as palm oil farmers took revenge against the elephants. They were found in APRIL’s logging road of Baserah, just couple of kilometers away from PT RAPP pulpwood concession and Tesso Nilo National Park, media reports said.

Data from WWF-Indonesia said that most of of 15 elephants found dead in Tesso Nilo block where conversion to plantations and forest encroachment shrank habitat of the wildlife species. The carcasses of elephants sometimes found in pulpwood plantation, mostly associated to APRIL, the data said.

Lack of law enforcement in forestry crime also contributed to the slaughtering of wildlife species like sumatran elephants, said environmentalists from Jikalahari, Riau NGOs network to rescue natural forest, and WWF-Indonesia.

Muslim Rasyid, coordinator of Jikalahari, told Tempo website (13 Nov) that rampant forest clearcutting and weak law enforcement will be constantly threats to endangered species including the killings of sumatran elephant.

Minister Zulkifli Hasan said two weeks ago that his ministry had been probing the killings of three elephants that possible were poisoned in attempt to nab the perpetrators.

At least 30,000 hectares of 86,000 hectares of land in Tesso Nilo National Park had been encroached by thousands of encroachers who come mostly from North Sumatra as they got the grabbed land from local officials who sold the land of protected or abandoned logging concession illegally.

The encroachers whom backed up by powerful persons –including police and military men- converted the forest into palm oil plantations in the block where well-known palm oil producers and pulp companies operated.

EoF reckons that the Indonesian Government and related stakeholders have been working hard to combat the encroachment threatening biodiversity in the central Sumatra, particularly in Tesso Nilo, Bukit Tigapuluh, Bukit Betabuh, and Senepis forests.

The degradation and deforestation due to encroachment and illegal logging by “poor people” would be blessing in disguise for plantation companies, but catasthrope to the nature, EoF reckons.