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November 2015 Field Report
from the Elephant Response Units (ERU)
at Way Kambas National Park

Background

The first Elephant Response Unit (ERU) in the Way Kambas National Park was established in December 2010 in the region of Bungur and given the name ERU Bungur Way Kambas. Since its establishment ERU Bungur has been conducting ongoing patrol and monitoring activities to mitigate and respond to human-elephant conflicts. These activities have brought many benefits and positive outcomes for the communities who border the National Park and the wildlife living within it, as well as benefiting the elephants working in the ERU. The communities bordering the National Park are now able to harvest crops on farming land right up to the edge of the Park border, that land had previously been abandoned due to crop damage by wild elephants leaving the park area. In January 2013 the second ERU team was created in Tegal Yoso with the same tasks and functions as ERU Bungur. Both locations were chosen based on the incidence of human-elephant conflicts in Bungur and Tegal Yoso.

From January to March 2015 a third camp location was surveyed, prepared and built in Margahayu. The ERU Margahayu is located in the SPTN Region 3 of Kuala Penet and has the same function and tasks as the ERUs in Bungur and Tegal Yoso. In April 2015 ERU Margahayu began active patrol and monitoring inside the National Park to respond and mitigate human-elephant conflicts.

The Way Kambas ERU teams engage with the surrounding community to encourage concern and convey the importance of maintaining the National Park area and responsibility for the wildlife, particularly the Sumatran elephants. This sense of responsibility is slowly taking hold. People in the surrounding area no longer see the elephants as their enemy.

Since the ERUs were established the village communities bordering the National Park have spontaneously began guarding the Park border with the ERU Way Kambas teams to anticipate and reduce the damage to crops by wild elephants leaving the National Park. If people hear wild elephants in the border region of the Park or find wild elephants in trouble, such as trapped in a well or ditch, they communicate by mobile phone with the ERU camps which shows that the community has faith in the ERUs response to such events.

The three ERUs in Way Kambas currently include 16 captive elephants and 16 mahouts. The ERUs in Bungur and Tegal Yoso each have 5 captive elephants and 5 mahouts, while ERU Margahayu has 6 elephants and 6 mahouts. Each ERU also includes assistant mahouts and is led by a Field Coordinator and a Team Leader. Forest Police personnel are also involved in every ERU activity.
The area between the ERU camps is as follows:
  • ERU Bungur to ERU Tegal Yoso 7.06 km
  • ERU Tegal Yoso to ERU Margahayu 27.65 km
  • ERU Margahayu to PKG Way Kambas 2.51 km
  • ERU Bungur to ERU Margahayu 30.96km
 

Purpose of the ERUs

  1. Patrol and monitoring around and inside the Way Kambas National Park in order to prevent illegal forest activities.
  2. Conduct survey and monitoring of wild elephant paths which leave the Park area and wildlife habitat and identify other causes that could lead to wildlife conflict.
  3. Fast response to incidents to prevent and mitigate human-elephant conflict working together with the community who border the National Park.
  4. Using the existing skills as well as improving the capacity of the mahouts and the community for mitigating wildlife-human conflicts so that wildlife habitat is protected.
  5. Together with the community bordering the National Park develop and manage strategies to mitigate wildlife-human conflict particularly human-elephant conflict.
  6. Develop a simple Education Conservation Centre in ERU WK as a training centre, information and learning resources for school students, university students and the public about Sumatran elephants and other wildlife.
 

Activities

Patrol, monitoring and protection of the forest by land patrols on foot or using captive elephants is carried out in monthly routines. While patrolling the river path using a motor boat occurs when needed according to information from the community or the field. These activities involve Forest Police for the Way Kambas National Park as well as other police if needed depending on the case, this means that the authority of law enforcement is present in the case of illegal forest activities.
 

Personnel ERU Way Kambas

No Staff Position Elephant name Description
Male Female
Personnel ERU Way Kambas
1 Nazaruddin Field Coordinator     BTNWK
2 Agus Riyadi Reporting and finance     BTNWK
No Staff Position Elephant name Description
Male Female
Personnel ERU TEGAL YOSO
1 Edi Sutrisno Mahout Karnangun   BTNWK
2 Adi Sutirto Mahout Boy   BTNWK
3 Reflianto Mahout   Lisnawati BTNWK
4 Zailan Efendi Mahout Aditia   BTNWK
5 Eko Budianto Mahout   Wulan BTNWK
6 Ponidi Forest Police     BTNWK
7 Supriyono Helper/Assistant Mahout     Local Community
8 Andi Pramono Helper/Assistantt Mahout     Local Community
9 Royan Azis Helper/Assistantt Mahout     Local Community
10 Agung Yuda Pratama Helper/Assistantt Mahout     Local Community
11. Nanang fitriansyah Helper/Assistant mahout/Camera Operator     Local Community
12 Muhlisin Helper/Assistant Mahout
(Guarding the Park border region)
    Local Community
13 Singgih Helper/Assistant Mahout
(Guarding the Park border region)
    Local Community
14 Sugiono Boat/ Car Operator (Guarding the Park border region)     Local Community
15 Adlan PEH     BTNWK
No Staff Position Elephant name Description
Male Female
Personnel ERU BUNGUR
1 Masrukhin Mahout Denis   BTNWK
2 Alfian Efendi Mahout Aji   BTNWK
3 Dedi Yuhdi Mahout Aris   BTNWK
4 Mahout Taufik Triyanto   Dona BTNWK
5 Ashadi Mahout   Gunturia BTNWK
6 Surani Forest Police     BTNWK
7 Fermana Areta Arisman Helper/Assistant Mahout     Local Community
8 Tomi Ferdiansyah Helper/Assistant Mahout     Local Community
9 Nanda Helper/Assistant Mahout     Local Community
10 Rendi Purnomo Helper/Assistant Mahout     Local Community
11 Hanapi Boat Operator
(Guarding camp Bungur)
    Local Community
12 Faizal Bahri Helper/Assistant Mahout
(Guarding the Park border region)
    Local Community
13 Galeh Helper/Assistant Mahout
(Guarding the Park border region)
    Local Community
14 Yuswanto Helper/Assistant Mahout
(Guarding the Park border region)
    Local Community
15 Andi hari Harsangkah PEH     BTN WK
No Staff Position Elephant name Description
Male Female
Personnel ERU Margahayu
1 Tri Sulistiyono Team Leader     BTNWK
2 Khairul Anam Mahout   Heli BTNWK
3 Didik Kurniadi Mahout Daeng   BTNWK
4 Mujiono Mahout   Meli BTNWK
5 Sakipul Mustopa Mahout Toni   BTNWK
6 Tendik Mahout   Amel BTNWK
7 Rasim Mahout Rendi   BTNWK
8 Junaidi Wijaya Helper/Assistant Mahout     Local Community
9 Sofa Aristiyanto Helper/Assistant Mahout     Local Community
10 Agus Helper/Assistant Mahout
(Guarding the Park border region)
    Local Community
11 Mahfut Helper/Assistant Mahout
 
    Local Community
12 Riyadi Helper/Assistant Mahout
(Guarding the Park border region)
    Local Community
13 Subandi Helper/Assistant Mahout
(Guarding the Park border region)
    Local Community
14 Eko Ariyanto Forest Police     BTN WK
15 Mustakim Helper/Assistant Mahout     Local Community
 
 

November 2015 Patrol and Monitoring in the Way Kambas ERUs

In November 2015 patrol and monitoring was conducted by the 3 Way Kambas ERUs (Bungur, Tegal Yoso and Margahayu) 15 times over 11 days (Table 1).
No. Component November 2015 Total
Bungur Tegal Yoso Margahayu
1 Patrol  & Monitoring 5 4 6 15
2 Days 2 3 6 11
3 Range (km) 1 1 - 3 1 - 6  
 
Table 1. Patroli & Monitoring ERU Way Kambas November 2015  

The Margahayu ERU conducted more patrol and monitoring activities in November, compared to the Bungur or Tegal Yoso ERU teams, because the Margahayu team encountered many cases in the field. In addition the usually long drought since June 2015 until now has left many creeks as well as river basins dry which are usually plentiful sources of water. These water sources are used by wild animals as well as the elephants in the Way Kambas ERU for drinking and washing inside the Way Kambas National Park.


Incidents of Illegal Forest Activities Around and Inside the Way National Park

Three types of illegal forest activities were found inside the Way Kambas National Park during November 2015 (Table 2).
 
No Case Type Jumlah Temuan Total
Bungur Tegal Yoso Margahayu
1 Wildlife Snares 1 0 0 1
2 Illegal Cattle Grazing 0 2 0 2
3 Illegaly cutting grass for livestock 1 2 0 3
 
 Table 2. Cases of illegal forest activities found by the Way Kambas ERU in November 2015.

The Bungur ERU team continues to confiscate and destroy wildlife snares, intensive searching located one wildlife snare and (on a separate occasion) identified footprints leading away from an area of illegally cut grass. During November the Tegal Yoso ERU successfully monitored and found 40 animals grazing inside the National Park with 3 people herding them, they also found 6 people illegally cutting grass for livestock and 5 bicycles. The Margahayu ERU did not detect any illegal forest activitites inside the National Park, neither directly nor for community advice.
If the ERU teams meet community members during patrol and monitoring activities inside the National Park the teams always talk with these people to explain the dangers of continuing  their activities on the paths or in the habitats of wild elephants inside the Way Kambas National Park.


Wildlife Found During Patrol and Monitoring by the Way Kambas ERUs

During November 2015 several large endangered mamal species were identified, one of which was the Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus). Wild elephants were sighted four times in November and once a wild elephant path was found. Other animals were identified by the team, including the carcass of a long tailed monkey (Macaca fascicularis). The lack of sightings of other wildlife during November could be due to the impact of the draught, as many animals travelled far from their usual habitat in search of water and food.


Patrol and monitoring of Sumatran elephants inside the Way Kambas National Park

During November 2015, only one of the three teams, the Margahayu ERU were engaged in herding wild Sumatran elephants away from the border of the National Park. The herding occurred on one day in November, as during this month a herd of wild elephants were located in the area of the Margahayu ERU because in the forest around the camp there are still a few locations where wildlife can reach water and a few food sources such as grasses which are particularly sought by wild elephants. These water and food sources were particularly important for wildlife given the ongoing draught conditions.
Patrol and monitoring of wild elephants during November 2015 was only conducted by the ERU Margahayu team. Several herds of wild Sumatran elephants were sighted, their sizes are listed as follows: 15 elephants (including 6 young), 30, 65, 70 and 100 (including one adult male). Meanwhile the Bungur and Tegal Yoso ERUs conducted guarding and patrol on the border of the National Park with the community in anticipation of elephants who will move away from the Margahayu ERU’s area.
Due to the shortage of natural food and water supplies for the captive elephants in the Way Kambas ERUs during this extreme dry season, emergency food supplies were sought in the form of corn leaves, banana tree, sugarcane and fruits as well as supplements for necessary vitamins and protein for the ERUs elephants.


 

Sumatran elephants found in the working range of the Way Kambas ERUs in and around the National Park

Monitoring the movement of wild elephants in and around the National Park was carried out using border patrols. The ERUs find the elephants either directly by sight or indirectly by sound or tracks and record the number in the herd and the gender of the wild elephants. Table 3 shows the number of wild elephants found for November 2015 by the Margahayu ERU.
  Number of elephants Verification
No. Date Location Resort Juvenile M F Adult / General Direct Indirect
M F Prints Voice
1 1/11/2015 Rabin Margahayu         17   1    
2 3/11/2015 Rabin Margahayu     1   100 1    
3 3/11/2015 Sapon Margahayu         65 1    
4 4/11/2015 Babakan rabin Margahayu         30 1    
5 4/11/2015 Sapon Margahayu         70 1    
6 5/11/2015 Rawa Lebar Rabin Margahayu         15 1    
7 5/11/2015 Rabin Margahayu         70 1    
8 6/11/2015
 
Pos Y Lama Margahayu             1  
9 6/11/2015 Balian Margahayu         70 1    
10 8/11/2015 Pedotan Margahayu       3   1    
11 9/11/2015 Kanal putul Margahayu       15   1    
 
Table 3. Findings of wild elephants in and around the Way Kambas National Park by Margahayu ERU.

Table 3 shows that wild elephants were found in almost all locations and paths for patrol and monitoring by the Margahayu ERU during November 2015. Wild elephants were directly sighted 10 times and once by their tracks.


Guarding the embankment and irrigation chanell bordering the Way Kambas National Park with villagers in November 2015

An embankment and irrigation chanel for a natural boundary between the Way Kambas National Park and community farmland. This area is guarded to anticipate and reduce human-elephant conflict. Table 4 shows the number of occasions this occurred at each of the three ERUs during November 2015.
No. Component November 2015
Bungur Tegal Yoso Margahayu
1 Community based crop guarding & wild elephant drives 0 0 3
2 Community based crop guarding 30 30 23
3 Community based crop guarding & monitoring of wild elephant movements 0 0 5
Total 30 30 31
 
Table 4. The number of times the border of the Way Kambas National Park was guarded by the ERUs and the community during November 2015.

From Table 4 it is evident that the Margahayu ERU was more active in guarding the boundary of the National Park than Tegal Yoso or Bungur, this was due to the presence of wild elephants in the area particularly a group of 3 adult males, a group of 15 adults, one of 17 adults and one of 70 adults. The Bungur and Tegal Yoso ERUs only conducted community based crop guarding during November.


Personnel Guarding the border of the National Park with the village

Guarding activities involve many personnel including members of the Way Kambas ERUs, local community and others (Table 5).
Personnel November 2015
Bungur Tegal Yoso Margahayu
Mahout 90 35 88
Forest police 0 0 35
Community 39 4 97
Others 80 48 76
Total 209 87 296
 
Table 5. Total personnel involved in guarding the Way Kambas National Park border during November 2015

The direct involvement of the local community who live around the forest is very important in creating a sense of cooperation and mutual support and a sense of responsibility for the resolution of human-elephant conflicts. Table 5 shows that crop guarding involves the cooperation of many people both from within the ERUs and from the community.


Training and Capacity Building for Mahouts

One of the goals for the ERUs is to improve the human resources capacity of the mahouts and other personnel in the ERU through basic training in the use of navigation tools as well as ways of managing human-elephant conflict. During Novermber 2015 the Way Kambas ERUs were visited by two vets and mahout team from Myaing Hay Won Elephant Camp in Myanmar. The visit included:
  1. Maung Maung Chay, DVM
  2. Win Tun Naing, DVM
  3. Tun Zin Kahaing (Mahout)
The purpose and aim of the Myanmar team’s visit was to provide training in handling human-elephant conflicts and methods of patrol and monitoring for the Way Kambas ERUs. The Myanmar team visited the three ERU camps, they also joined patrol and monitoring activities within the National Park with the ERU teams. They also joined a community team guarding the border between the National Park and community farm lands.
In addition 15 people from Forestry Department of the district of Pidie in Aceh together with community leaders from Pidie visited the Margahayu ERU to discuss and learn about how to reduce and mitigate human-elephant conflicts, so that experience and lessons learnt by this ERU can be implemented in their area.


Documentation

 
ERU Tegal Yoso monitoring and patrolling inside the Way Kambas National Park, November. 2015
 
ERU Margahayu, together with local community members, guard the embankment between the Way Kambas National Park and farmlands to anticipate and prevent wild elephants leaving the National Park area, Nov. 2015


A herd of 17 Sumatran elephants observed from the embankment by the Marghayu ERU close to the border of the National Park, Nov. 2015



A herd of 15 Sumatran elephants, including one calf, observed by the Margahayu ERU while on patrol and monitoring in the Way Kambas National Park, Nov. 2015



A female Sumatran elephant breastfeeding a calf.



Sumatran elephants having a drink at one of the swamps. This is one of the few water sources that remain in the area due to the unusually long dry season. Observed by the Margahayu ERU patrol, Nov. 2015



The dry conditions during the unusually long dry season. The Bungur ERU team with their elephants, while conducting patrol and monitoring in the Way Kambas National Park, Nov. 2015



The team from the Forestry Department of Pidie and community leaders from Pidie in Aceh visit Margahayu ERU to discuss and learn about ways to reduce and mitigate human-elephant conflict so that some of the lessons from this ERU can be implemented in the Pidie area. Nov. 2015.

 

Maps



 
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