Thursday, March 5, 2009


    Jakarta, Mar 5, 2009 (ANTARA) - In desperate need of living space, endangered Sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus sumatrensis) and Sumatran tigers (Panthera tigris Sumatrae) again killed several people in inhabited parts of Sumatra Island's interior lately.
     The latest attack happened at Balai Makam village, Bengkalis District, Riau Province, on Wednesday (Mar 4) at dawn when wild Sumatran  elephants killed Jalinus (83), a local villager, in a horrifying way.

     Jalinus  was killed while he was trying to escape from an attack on his house by a few  elephants, according to  Retry, director of the Community  Social Workers Communication Forum (FKPSM) Duri, said at Balai Makam, following the incident.
      "The victim's body was torn apart or badly mutilated. His head, legs and arms were severed from his body," Retry said.
       Jalinus' body was a shocking reminder of  how savage  wild elephants could become. It appeared the elephant that attacked Jalinus had knocked him down and then trampled on him repeatedly until his body was torn apart, according to Retry.
        The elephant was part of around 40 elephants that  attacked houses, including Jalinus' house, in the Duri-Dumai area, creating a chaotic situation as all villagers tried to save themselves  from the giant animals.
     Balai Makam is within the home range of Sumatran elephants, and at least three times in a year they passed the area. In such cases, the options were whether settlers were to kill elephants or be killed by the animals, according to Retry.
      Over the past three years, four residents of Balai Makam had been killed by elephants, and six elephants were dead mostly because of poison,  Syamsuardi, an activist of WWF (World Wide Fund for Nature) said in the Riau provincial capital of Pekanbaru, Wednesday (March 4).
    "These animals could no longer live in the forest because their habitat has gone. So, the elephants wander from kampong to another kampong, which are actually within their home range,"  Syamsuardi said.
     From 2006-2008, six elephants were killed, and three men died in human-elephant conflicts in Riau Province alone, he said.
      The population of Sumatran elephants, the smallest of the Asian elephants,  was estimated to reach between 2,400 and 2,800 heads in 2007, or a decrease by 35 percent from the figure in 1992 when there were 5,000 heads. 
     Some factors which caused the elephant population to drop included deforestation, poaching and human encroachment to the animal's habitats.
     Human-elephant conflicts also often occur in Aceh, Lampung and Jambi Provinces on Sumatra Island, and claim lives of both humans and elephants.   Between 2000 to 2007, conflicts between people and elephants had killed a total of 42 people and 100 elephants on Sumatra Islands.
                            Sumatran tiger    
     The Sumatran tiger is critically endangered according to the IUCN (International Union for the Conservation of Nature), with approximately 400 individuals surviving in the wild, and is the last surviving subspecies of tiger in Indonesia. Indonesia's two other tiger subspecies Javanese and Balinese tigers, have become extinct within the past seven decades.
      In human-tigers conflicts since January 2009 on Sumatra Island, ten people were reported of having been attacked, and eight of them were killed. Four tigers were also reportedly killed in the conflicts on the island.

       The latest incident was on March 2, 2009, when a Sumatran tiger  killed two alleged illegel loggers  in a limited production forest (HPT) at  Sungai Gelam village, Muarojambi District, Jambi Province.
    Primary threats to the Sumatran tiger include habitat loss, poaching for the illegal trade in skins and traditional medicines, decline in prey species due to hunting, the limited extent and high fragmentation of protected areas, and often fatal conflict with humans.
    An analysis of satellite's data indicated that around eight million hectares of forest areas on Sumatra Island had gone over the period of 1990 to 2000.
     Many environmentalists have complained that openings of plantation areas, including for oilpalm plantations, have shrunk the habitats of the wildlife in Sumatra.
    Last August 2008, WWF hailed the commitment by the government of Indonesia to more than double the size of Sumatra's Tesso Nilo National Park, one of the last havens for Sumatran elephants and tigers.
     Tesso Nilo National Park was created in 2004 but only 94,000 acres of forest were included. With last year's declaration, the government of Indonesia will extend the national park into 213,000 acres by December 2008 and integrate an additional 47,000 acres into the national park management area of 250,000 acres.
     "This is a momentous decision that offers hope for some of the planet's most spectacular wildlife and forests," said Carter Roberts, President of WWF-US, which supported the effort to extend the park.
     "There is still much to do, however, as Sumatra's forests continue to disappear to feed the growing global demand for pulp, paper and palm oil," the WWF official said.
     When men encroach the elephant and tiger habitats, illegally log trees and poach the wildlife in the Sumatran forests, the animals are left with no other option but defending themselves.
(T.F001/A/F001/A/H-YH) 04-03-2009 20:18:11

No comments:

Post a Comment