The Jakarta Post
Spirits are high at Mount Leuser National Park (TNGL) after one of its patrol elephants, which are used to harry illegal loggers, gave birth to a female baby.
The newborn elephant, which had a chest measurement of 100 centimeters and a height of 83 cm, was born in a healthy condition by her 22-year-old mother, named Yuni, at TNGL's Conservation Response Unit (CRU) Tangkahan in Langkat regency, North Sumatra.
TNGL center head Andi Basrul said that there were two more pregnant elephants, namely Olive and Agustin, at CRU Tangkahan, with both expected to give birth in the near future.
'We are waiting for the two pregnant elephants to deliver babies in the near future,' Andi told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
Mother elephants at CRU Tangkahan, he said, had on several occasions given birth to babies, but, vulnerable to disease, none had survived.
'So far, three baby elephants have died from diseases,' he said.
Andi expressed hope that the newborn babies elephant would survive and grow healthily.
Baby elephants were generally vulnerable to disease from birth they were until 3 years old,
CRU Tangkahan, he went on, had six female elephants and one male. They were all initially wild elephants living in the TNGL area and were tamed after undergoing a series of training sessions beginning in 2004.
The elephants, Andi said, were used to patrol the TNGL area, especially on narrow paths unsuitable for motor vehicles. Thanks to the help of the patrol elephants, several illegal logging practices have been foiled at TNGL.
'In fact, we also often use the elephants to destroy illegal plantations inside TNGL,' he said.
Andi added that the elephants were also frequently used in a participative patrol program combined with a nature tour managed by local people.
The program is seen as providing sustainable benefits to local people, encouraging them to actively participate in the preservation of TNGL's forests.
'Tangkahan natives were previously thought of as illegal loggers. This program has turned them into preservers and protectors of the forests,' Andi said.
CRU Tangkahan manager Edy Sunardi said that the concept of elephant management at the CRU included involving locals to help preserve TNGL and at the same time develop tourism potential in the surrounding areas.
The concept, Edy said, had yielded positive impacts, both for locals and for the habitats of animals including tigers, elephants, orangutans and rhinoceroses.
He expressed hope, therefore, that the newborn elephant would survive until adulthood, when she could also be used to help maintain the ecosystem of the national park.
'We have a herpes virus here that often attacks baby elephants. Once the virus attacks, the baby elephant dies in just minutes,' said Edy, adding that no doctor had so far succeeded in dealing with the deadly virus.
The virus, he explained, had been a major factor in the slow development of the elephant population in TNGL, as had increased illegal hunting of the animals.
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