The Jakarta Post
A domesticated elephant, a member of the Flying Squad at the Tesso Nilo National Park gave birth to a female calf on Aug. 7. The calf is the fourth new member of the squad at the park located in Pelalawan regency, Riau.
Riau chapter World Wildlife Fund for Nature (WWF) Program spokesperson Syamsidar said the newborn calf had been healthy since it was born two weeks ago.
'It weighed around 90 kilograms when it was born,' Syamsidar said in a press release made available to The Jakarta Post in Pekanbaru.
The calf, which has yet to be named, was delivered by its 35-year-old mother Ria. According to Syamsidar, the elephant showed signs of giving birth over the past month.
'The gestation period of a Sumatran elephant is generally between 20 and 22 months. Mahouts had predicted that Ria would give birth this month,' she said.
'The mahouts continue to take care of all the members of the Flying Squad, including Ria. The birth was first discovered by a mahout named Erwin Daulay,' added Syamsidar.
The first time Erwin got close to Ria, said Syamsidar, Ria showed unusual signs. 'Ria acted as if she was dodging Erwin at first, but when he got closer, he saw the calf was already standing next to her,' she said.
The mahouts then carefully escorted Ria and her calf to the Flying Squad camp around 700 meters from where she gave birth to her calf.
The Flying Squad has been operating at the Tesso Nilo National Park since 2004 to deal with human-elephant conflicts. The team, formed by WWF Indonesia and the Forestry Ministry, which consists of Riau Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA) and Tesso Nilo National Park, was originally made up of four trained adult elephants.
The additional Flying Squad member was of course warmly welcomed by conservationists, including Riau BKSDA head Kemal Amas.
'The birth of the calf by a member of the Flying Squad at the Tesso Nilo National Park is not only an Idul Fitri gift in the continued effort to conserve the Sumatran elephant, but also good news from Tesso Nilo amid the high rate of elephant deaths in the forested area over the past two years,' said Kemal.
Based on WWF data, 12 wild elephants were found dead in the Tesso Nilo National Park in 2012, and three others were found dead this year. Most of the deaths were due to poisoning. 'The Tesso Nilo National Park and Riau BKSDA are investigating the elephant deaths at the park,' said Kemal.
WWF Indonesia species expert Sunarto said the birth of the calf was also a special gift for World Elephant Day which fell on Aug. 12.
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