Background

Sumatra is a unique island, home to many iconic species both large and small. Including endangered Sumatran Rhinos, Tigers, Orangutans and Elephants. The habitats and populations of these unique creatures are threatened by climate change, deforestation, illegal logging, forest fires, poaching and encroachment.

The Community for Sumatran Nature Conservation (Komunitas Untuk Hutan Sumatera, KHS) was created in 2015 with the mission to support local communities and authorities in nature conservation to ensure long-term biodiversity through environmental management support and education programs.

Our Goals

  • Protect and restore species and their habitats sustainable.
  • Strengthen local communities’ ability in sustainable practices to conserve the natural resources they depend on.
  • Ensure that the value of nature is reflected in decisions made by individuals, communities, governments and businesses.
  • Mobilize people to support conservation.

One of KHS’s core objectives is to support the on-going operation of the Indonesian Government’s Elephant Response Units (ERUs) within the Way Kambas National Park. The National Parks Department for Way Kambas began elephant patrols using trained elephants and mahouts in 2006. Regular elephant patrols proved beneficial both for the health of the captive elephants and as a mitigation strategy to herd wild elephants away from the border area of the National Park. Elephant patrols offered an opportunity for both in-situ and ex-situ elephant conservation through the improved health of the captive elephants and as a peaceful means of reducing Human Elephant Conflict due to wild elephants entering farming land outside the National Park. Regular elephant patrols support the protection of wild elephants and their habitat while also protecting the farming land of local communities. The ERUs continue to effectively mitigate and further reduce Human-Elephant Conflict and to support a sustainable coexistence between wild elephants and local communities.

Today, the three ERUs conduct regular monitoring and patrolling along the border of the National Parks and along wild elephant routes. The ERUs communicate by mobile phone about wild elephant movements (including sightings, tracks, scats and sounds). This information is collated in monthly reports to the National Parks Department and international donors and is communicated to members of the local community. The two way exchange of information between the ERUs and local community members is vital to ensure the ERUs can predict and respond to movements of wild elephants.

Members of the State Forest Police also join the ERUs on patrol and monitoring and meeting with community members who are crop guarding. Members of the local community also support the ERUs in assistant roles or as trainee mahouts, the camps provide a livelihood opportunity for local community members.

Elephant Response Units

Elephant Response Units have now been set up at three camps located inside the boarder of the WKNP. The first camp was built at Bungur where there are now 5 trained elephants and mahouts based. A second camp was built at Tegol Yoso where there are also 5 trained elephants and mahouts. The third camp was built in 2015 at Margahayu. The locations were chosen to respond to the high incidence of HEC in those areas.

The Way Kambas National Park

The WKNP is threatened by different illegal activities, such as forest encroachment, illegal logging, forest fire and poaching. Significant encroachment of the National Park area, especially on its north-western boundaries, had led to the degradation and decline of elephant habitat, thereby further increasing the incidents of HEC over many years. A large operation conducted by the WKNP authorities in collaboration with special police forces in 2009 removed most of the encroachers, and the encroached area is under rehabilitation. Regular patrol and monitoring by the ERUs is required to prevent and deter illegal activities, provide data and monitor wildlife populations and habitat rehabilitation.

Key indications of the benefits of the ERUs

Key indications of the benefits of the ERUs include the feedback that the health of the captive elephants has improved since engaging in regular patrol and monitoring activities. These activities provide the captive elephants with exercise, mental stimulation and an opportunity to eat a varied diet while on patrol. Another important indicator of the ERUs success is the high participation rate of local community members who voluntarily participate in crop guarding and night watching activities to monitor the movements of wild elephants.

Human Elephant Conflict

Human Elephant Conflict occurs when farmers with crops planted in wild elephant habitats have no sustainable means of preventing wild elephants from entering farming land. HEC can result in crop losses, damage and destruction of property, injuries and loss of life leading people to retaliate against wild elephants. The introduction of regular elephant patrols along the north-western boundary of the WKNP in 2006 has dramatically reduced the incidence of Human Elephant Conflict by preventing these situations from occurring. In effectively patrolling the park boundary the ERUs have defined a clear border between agricultural land and the National Park.

Regular patrol and monitoring activities

Furthermore, regular patrol and monitoring activities have served to educate community members about the importance of wild population and habitat conservation both leading to a reduction in the occurrence of illegal activities and an increase in the ability of Forest Police to monitor and report on cases that are found.

Our Mission

Our mission is to support local communities and authorities in nature conservation to ensure long-term biodiversity through environmental management support and education programs.

Our Vision

Our vision is for a healthy and sustainable future for the environment, wildlife and people of Sumatra.

Where we work

The Way Kambas National Park.
One of KHS’s core objectives is to support the on-going operation of the Indonesian Governments’ Elephant Response Units (ERUs) within the Way Kambas National Park. The ERUs continue to effectively mitigate and further reduce Human-Elephant Conflict and to support a sustainable coexistence between wild elephants and local communities.

The Way Kambas National Park

The Way Kambas National Park is one of the oldest National Parks in Indonesia. The Park sits on the south-east coast of the Indonesian island of Sumatra, within the Lampung province. It covers an area of ± 125.621.3 hectares of coastal lowland tropical forests including swamp forests and bush land around the Way Kambas river. During the 1960s and 70s commercial logging activities and frequent fires degraded much of the park, and today early-successional vegetation types like grassland and scrub cover much of the area.

The Community for Sumatran Nature Conservation

The Community for Sumatran Nature Conservation supports the valuable work of the Way Kambas Elephant Response Units (ERU), the first of which began operating in 2010. There are currently three ERUs operating in the Way Kambas National Park, the ERUs Tegol Yoso and Bungur on the north-western border and the ERU Margahayu on the southwestern border for the WKNP.
The Way Kambas National Park is estimated to be home to 200 wild elephants, which is more than 10% of the remaining wild population. The land area of this National Park is one of few remaining opportunities for wild Sumatran elephant populations.

Human Elephant Conflict

The Way Kambas ERUs have proved invaluable in reducing HEC in the WKNP border areas Established in HEC hostspot the ERUS have led to a 90% reduction of HEC in their working areas. This has been achieved by the elephant patrols monitoring movements of wild elephant inside the NP and if needed driving wild elephants away from border areas, thus reducing the threat to elephants from humans protecting their farmland.
Furthermore the establishment and regular involvement of community groups in a well-organized crop guarding and wild elephant monitoring scheme on the NP border of the NP has much contributed to the reduction of HECs.

Improving the economy of local farmers

Such a significant HEC reduction has improved the economy of local farmers and allowed them to reclaim farmland up to the park boarders which had been abandoned due to the threat of wild elephant raids. Elephant raids in the past not only damaged crops, but endangered both human and elephants’ lives and resulted in the destruction of property and equipment. Community support for the ERUs is evidenced in the number of hours community members donate to monitoring and reporting sightings of wild elephants near the National Park boarders, as well as in on going close coordination and collaboration between the ERUs and communities for its monitoring and HEC mitigation efforts. .

The Team

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The ERUs’ objectives in Way Kambas National Park

Sustainable management and mitigation of Human Elephant Conflict and thus sustainable income of the local communities from their farmlands bordering the Way Kambas National Park boundaries in the project area.
Way Kambas National Park boundaries are better secured and prevention of illegal activities inside the National Park area is increased thus protecting wild elephants and their habitat.

The ERUs’ objectives in Way Kambas National Park

Preventing the capture and killing of wild elephants in response to HEC and land encroachment.
Job opportunities and income for community members employed by the ERU are provided.

The ERUs’ objectives in Way Kambas National Park

3 ERU units are equipped and members are prepared to conduct regular forest patrols and provide immediate Human Elephant Conflict Response at the north-western border (2 units) and south-western border (1 unit) of Way Kambas National Park.
Members of the ERU units have improved capacity and are empowered as conservationists.

The ERUs’ objectives in Way Kambas National Park

The population of local communities surrounding the CRU base camps is enabled and better prepared for mitigating and responding to Human Elephant Conflict and thus the acceptance of the existence of wild elephants in their direct neighbourhood is increased.
A conservation concept integrating wild and captive elephants in a sustainable conservation strategy is demonstrated.
Welfare and care of captive elephants at the ERU base camps is improved.

Join The Cause

We are very thankful for the support from several key funding partners. Their generous contributions enable our work to be possible. Funding from United States Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), Welttierschutzgesellschaft e.V. (WTG)  and International Elephant Foundation (IEF) facilitate the routine patrols and daily duties of the Elephant Response Units (ERUs), their equipment and basic renovations to the base camps. Wildlife Reserves Singapore (WRS) provides full funding for the Tegal Yoso ERU in Way Kambas National Park. Asian Elephant Support (AES) supports specific projects such as food for the elephants during the 2015 draught conditions and paddock fencing at the base camps.

If you would like to make a donation please contact us at info@khsumatera.org

donors

Recording Wild Animals inside the National Park

While on patrol the ERUs use GPS to record the locations of their findings, including wild animals they encounter through direct sightings, tracks or scat.

Monitoring Wild Elephant Herds inside the National Park

During patrols the ERUs monitor the movements of wild elephants. Sometimes a herd of wild elephants can be identified by a particular individual with a unique feature. Other times a herd could be identified by their size or the number of calf.

Where do the ERUs patrol?

The ERU patrol paths vary depending on the encountered cases in the field. On patrol the ERUs travel through grasslands, rivers and forested areas.