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31
Dec

Satellite Technology Strengthens Sumatran Elephant Conservation

Starting this month, Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus) herd movement will be monitored in real time in Balai Raja, Giam Siak Kecil and Petapahan habitats in Riau. This progressive step follows after PT. Chevron Pacific Indonesia (PT CPI) presented three GPS collars to the Riau Natural Resource Conservation Center, or Balai Besar Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam (BBKSDA). Fitting alpha male elephants with these devices will enable real-time satellite herd tracking that can help mitigate potential human-elephant conflicts

In addition to the three GPS collars, 18 trap cameras were presented by PT CPI Senior Vice President Corporate Affairs Wahyu Budiarto to Chief of Riau BBKSDA Suharyono through a semi-virtual event held at Manggala Wanabhakti Building, Jakarta, on October 13. Attendants included General Director of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation, or Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam dan Ekosistem (KSDAE), Ir. Wiratno, M.SC; Director of Essential Ecosystem Development Management, or Bina Pengelolaan Ekosistem Esensial (BPEE), Ir. Asep Sugiharta, M.SC; and SKK Migas Land Department Senior Manager Farida. KSDAE is part of Indonesia’s Ministry of Living Environment and Forestry, or Kementerian Lingkungan Hidup dan Kehutanan (KLHK).

“Hopefully this breakthrough will decrease the mortality of Sumatran elephants and other wild animals due to conflict with humans and hunting by humans,” said Wahyu Budiarto. “The partnership rescue effort is aligned with one of our company values, which is to protect people and the environment.”

The equipment aid comes by way of elephant rescue efforts among partners KLHK, PT CPI and the Indonesia Elephant Society, or Perkumpulan Gajah Indonesia (PGI).

KSDAE General Director Wiratno hopes this partnership, which brings together government, business and nongovernmental entities, serves as a model for Sumatran elephant conservation in other territories. “This equipment aid provided by our partners in the public and private sectors is a compassionate example of support for the safety of our wildlife.,” he said. “I thank the Riau BBKSDA teams along with their partners and hope that we are able to successfully monitor elephant movement live.”

The partnership agreement was signed in February 2020. In addition to providing the equipment, collar fitting and camera installation, the partnership will monitor the elephant population and develop elephant habitat, particularly in the Talang Forest area managed by PT CPI.

Gps Collar and Camera Trap

The GPS and Camera trap technology being used.

“Elephant natural habitat in Balai Raja, Giam Siak Kecil and Petapahan is important because of the high number of elephants and their long-distance movement,” said PGI Chief Donny Gunaryadi. “The numbers of human-elephant conflict in Balai Raja is known to be high, and we hope such encounters can be better managed after the GPS collars are fitted.”

The three GPS collar fittings are scheduled for the end of October. Placed on the alpha male in each herd, the collars will enable real-time herd movement monitoring and provide data for early detection of human-elephant conflict and future elephant conservation efforts.

A portion of the camera traps will be installed in the elephant movement area, and the remainder will be used to support Riau wildlife conservation programs for tigers, clouded leopards, bears and other animals. As the program executor, PGI also works with Wildlife Jungle Foundation, or Rimba Satwa Foundation (RSF), as a local conservation partner. The combined patrol team from RSF and BBKSDA Riau routinely screen the elephant movement area for immediate death threats such as snares, electric fencing, poisons and hunting.

At this time, the Balai Raja and Petapahan elephant herds are the main priority. The Balai Raja herd population is approximately 25 elephants.

In Balai Raja territory, elephant habitat with decent forest coverage spans only 200 hectors in the part of Talang Forest that is managed by PT CPI. Habitat development will start with clearing weeds and producing mineral blocks (also called salt licks) to minimize the conflict intensity in the community garden.

The elephant herd often crosses through the neighborhoods where PT CPI employees reside in Duri. However, by monitoring herd movement through the area, conflict with the residents will be avoidable. PT CPI employees are also instructed on what to do if they coincidently encounter the protected wildlife.

Meanwhile, the Petapahan herd has an estimated 11 elephants roaming around the Elephant Training Centre, or Pusat Latihan Gajah (PLG) and the Minas and Sultan Syarif Hasim Resident Forest Garden, or Taman Hutan Rakyat Sultan Syarif Hasim (Tahura SSH).

The herd in Giam Siak Kecil includes a small but unknown number of elephants.

Sumatran elephant rescue is part of PT CPI’s environment social investment program. Other endeavors include the waste bank program in Pekanbaru, Bengkalis and Siak, established in partnership with Lancang Kuning University; mangrove conservation with Archipelago Nature Conservation Foundation, or Yayasan Konservasi Alam Nusantara (YKAN); and the Peat Care Village program, or Program Desa Peduli Gambut, in Siak and Rokan Hilir, conducted in partnership with the Peat Restoration Board, or Badan Restorasi Gambut (BRG). Source: indonesia.chevron.com – rimbasatwa team

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