Kompas – June 12, 2019

Writing on tree trunk reads “deforestation”, word from elephant’s mouth reads “help”

According to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia, conflict between humans and elephants on the island of Sumatra has become inevitable with massive land conversions across the island since the 1980s turning forested areas – the natural habitat of the Sumatran elephant – into plantations and residential areas resulting in growing number of elephants entering these areas in search of food.

Last year, two farmers died in two separate incidents after trying to drive away a herd of elephants from a plantations in Lampung. But more elephants have died than humans with at least three reportedly killed in Aceh, Jambi and Lampung last year in conflicts with humans. Seven elephants were killed in 2017 and 13 in 2016.

According to WWF Indonesia, the elephant population has fallen by around 35 percent in the past two decades from about 2,652 individuals to 1,724. The majority of the existing elephants – around 85 percent – live outside conservation areas, which increases the probability of conflict with humans.