The Indonesian government is cooperating with privately owned Taman Safari Indonesia and the Australia Zoo to build an elephant hospital in the National Park of Way Kambas in Lampung.
The hospital has been developed in an attempt to prevent Sumatran elephants from becoming extinct.
Forestry Minister Zulkifli Hasan says the hospital will become the first of its kind in Indonesia and the largest in Asia.
“Elephants that sustain injuries from clashes with humans can be treated here. The elephant hospital can also serve as a research center for elephant conservation,” he said here on Tuesday after a groundbreaking ceremony.
Zulkifli also called on locals to work together to preserve the livelihood of elephants.
“We are asking for people to leave elephants alone, not to hunt them down or clear land designated for elephant conservation,” he said.
The International Union for Conservation of Nature and Natural Resources (IUCN) has raised the status of the Sumatran elephant from “endangered” to “critically endangered” due to the species’ continuously declining population.
It is estimated that the species could vanish within 30 years.
Taman Safari Indonesia director Tony Sumampau said the elephant hospital was built on a 5-hectare plot of land with a Rp 10 billion (US$1.11 million) investment. The hospital is expected to commence operations within the next two years. (mtq)