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Jakarta Post

Endangered elephant calf caught in trap saved

  • Hotli Simanjuntak and Gisela Swaragita

    The Jakarta Post

Banda Aceh/Jakarta   /   Fri, May 4, 2018   /   10:04 am
Endangered elephant calf caught in trap saved A vet treats a wounded baby elephant at the Elephant Training Center in Saree, Aceh Besar, Aceh. The calf was left behind by its herd after being caught in a trap in the Geumpang forest in Pidie, Aceh. (JP/Hotli Simanjuntak)

The Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) and the Center of Elephant Training in Saree have teamed up with locals to save an elephant calf that was inadvertently trapped in an agricultural area at the edge of a forest in Geumpang district of Pidie regency.

The calf, estimated to be around 3 months old, was suspected to have been passing the area with its herd when its front left leg was caught in a nylon trap that locals had set to catch wild hogs that often intruded into their agricultural area.

The calf, a protected Sumatran elephant, could not extricate itself from the trap and severely injured its leg in the process of trying to break free.

The injured calf was subsequently left behind by its herd.

Dedi Irvansyah, an official with the BKSDA, said local residents found the unfortunate calf two days before it was freed on Wednesday, but they did not immediately help because they were afraid that its mother would come back to retrieve it.

The BKSDA immediately deployed a team after receiving the information from the locals, but by the time they arrived at the location later on Wednesday, locals had already freed the elephant from the trap.

“It appeared that after we told them that most injured elephants are left behind by their herd, the locals freed the poor calf from the trap,” Dedi said on Thursday.

By the time the calf was freed, the wound in its leg had already turned necrotic and required intensive care due to the delay in providing aid.

However, Dedi said besides the leg wound, the calf did not suffer any other severe injuries.

“The calf is just very stressed right now,” he said.

On early Thursday morning, the BKSDA took the calf to a training center in Saree, Aceh Besar regency, which is around 150 kilometers from the incident.

The calf is now under the care of veterinarians from the agency as well as from Syiah Kuala University.

Forest areas in Geumpang are home to a large population of Sumatran elephants, which are listed by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) as a critically endangered species. But in Geumpang, conflicts between elephants and humans are also rampant.

Dedi said conflicts between elephants and humans often occurred because human settlements were too close to the elephants’ routes.

He also said deforestation due to illegal logging and plantations had ignited more conflict between humans and wild animals.

The BKSDA recorded that 12 elephants died in Aceh last year. Eleven of those were wild elephants that had died in human-animal conflicts.

The number includes a case of a female elephant that was found dead after being poisoned in East Aceh on Christmas Day last year, said BKSDA head Sapto Aji Prabowo.

“The government’s effort to reduce the conflicts is still insufficient. The law enforcement process does not get the expected results,” Khalisah Khalid of environmental group Indonesian Forum for the Environment (Walhi) said. 

“The law is weak, especially to companies that became perpetrators of the destruction of wildlife habitats and human living spaces.”