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Jakarta Post

Islands in focus: Herpes puts Sumatran elephants under threat

  • The Jakarta Post

    The Jakarta Post

Yogyakarta   /   Wed, September 9, 2015   /  03:11 pm

The continued survival of Sumatran elephants is at risk, a researcher has said, with many babies dying over the past three years from Elephant endotheliotropic herpesvirus (EEHV).

'€œWhile adult elephants can survive EEHV attacks, many calves have died [because of EEHV]. The virus is threatening their population,'€ Muhammad Wahyu of the Medan-based Veterinary Society for Sumatran Wildlife Conservation (VESSWIC) said at a workshop on Tuesday.

A number of veterinarians, zoo officials and mahouts from Sumatran cities, Jakarta, Surakarta, Yogyakarta, Surabaya and Denpasar attended the workshop, which discussed elephant medical treatment and control.

The EEHV virus, Wahyu said, had killed five young elephants in Way Kambas, Lampung, in 2012 and four others between October last year and February. Another calf died in Aceh in February.

EEHV-infected elephants suffered lower immunity, swollen faces and blue tongues, Wahyu went on.

Recent data from Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) Indonesia revealed that the elephant population in Sumatra had continued to decrease over the past decade, mainly because of illegal hunting, particularly in Riau, Aceh and North Sumatra. The population of Sumatran elephants was currently no higher than 1,000, WCS said, or 69 percent lower than 25 years ago.

The decrease in the population of Sumatran elephants has moved the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) to list the species as endangered.

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