September 2015

Supporting the care and conservation of elephants in Asian range countries.
Dr. Christopher Stremme's Update on the 
Conservation Response Units in Sumatra

The Conservation Response Units (CRU) in the Way Kambas National Park (WKNP) are employing captive elephants and mahouts from the Way Kambas Elephant Conservation Center to conduct human-elephant conflict (HEC) management and habitat patrols. The CRUs are hugely effective and contribute much to reducing HEC and securing the WKNP habitat.

The first two CRUs  were established with the construction of permanent base camps in 2011 and 2013 on the northwestern border of the WKNP in the areas of Bungur and Tegal Yoso.  This is one of the HEC hotspots having caused ongoing loss of almost all crops close to the WKNP border; therefore leading to great resentment against the WKNP and wild elephants from local communities.

The two CRU base camps at Bungur and Tegal Yoso each have 5 captive elephants used for habitat patrols and, if needed, to drive off wild herds that  venture into farmland. During daily routine patrols the two units cover more than 15 km of WKNP border and a total of about 400km² of national park area. Regular staff of each CRU unit consists of 5 mahouts from the WKNP and 4 people from the local communities who are employed and trained as permanent staff of the CRU teams. Besides conducting patrols and wild elephant drives inside the national park, the CRU teams have also encouraged teams from local communities to build observation posts outside the WKNP on its border area and conduct regular night watches to detect wild elephants early and guard their valuable crops. The teams from the local communities have been trained in techniques of how to drive away wild elephants if they get close to the WKNP border and if needed,  get backed up by the experienced CRU teams with its elephants.
A CRU ready to go out into the field!
A communication system, via mobile phones, between the CRU teams and the local community teams has been established and functions as an early warning tool ensuring ongoing information exchange between the CRU and local communities about elephant migrations close to the WKNP border.  This allows for  the timely coordination for needed crop guarding and wild elephant drives.

Currently 11 villages in the Bungur – Tegal Yoso area benefit from and participate in this HEC mitigation strategy with the CRUs. As a result of this work, the occurrence of incidents where wild elephants actually succeeded to pass the WKNP border and reach farmland has been reduced by more than 70%. The actual loss of crops due to the early warning and quick intervention has been reduced by more than 90%.

Due to the massive decrease of loss of crops, and thus increased income, the local communities have become much more willing to withdraw from most illegal activities inside the WKNP such as logging, cultivation, poaching, and cattle grazing and have become willing to accept the CRU’s law enforcement role for the protection of the WKNP area as undisturbed habitat for wild elephants. This has led to a reduction of such illegal activities by more than 90% in the Bungur-Tegal Yoso area.

Due to the success of the Bungur and Tegal-Yoso CRUs, in 2014 the head of the National Park has asked donors such as IEF, AES, and USFWS, who have supported the establishment and operation of the CRUs, for support to establish a new third CRU at the southwestern border of the WKNP, which is another HEC hotspot. IEF, USFWS, and AES agreed to support the establishment of this new CRU and in November 2014 the construction of the new basecamp in the Margahayu region was started. In January 2015 the CRU team were based at the camp while still under construction. The initial team consisted of 5 captive elephants and 5 mahouts from the WKNP Elephant Conservation Center. Shortly after the team arrived 4 young local people from nearby communities were employed and started to be trained as CRU team members. Training for such new team members consists of:
  • Captive elephant management and care
  • Habitat navigation by using basic orientation points in the area, maps, and GPS
  • Wild elephant behavior, approach and driving strategies
  • Conservation laws and regulations
New ERU Team
Initial staff training and camp construction were completed in April 2015 and the new CRU is fully operational. During its daily routine patrols a border area of about 10km is covered. During the past months the CRU team has constantly monitored the movement of wild elephant herds close to the WKNP border. Already several situations have been encountered by the team where a large herd of more than 30 animals intended to cross the NP border to venture into villages and farmland. The team has managed these incidents by driving the elephants away from the border back into the forest area of the WKNP. Such drive operations often last for several days because during the drive, the wild elephants initially retreat in the nearby forest, but during the next night they try to enter into the farmland again. This means the CRU team has to stand by on guard for several days until the wild herds finally give up and retreat back deeper into the WKNP forest area.

The people from local communities start to respond positively to the presence and activities of the new CRU as major crop raiding events by wild elephants have been prevented since the CRU has become active.  The team has started to approach the people from the local communities to start building joint crop guarding and HEC mitigation strategies like in Bungur and Tegal-Yoso. The CRU team has already encouraged and supported the first community members for the construction of two observation posts outside the WKNP directly on its border with farmland. These posts are now already used for crop guarding during the night time by local community members.

The CRUs have become a very successful and important part of the WKNP habitat protection and HEC mitigation strategy. The successful implementation of the day to day field work is ensured by teams of highly motivated and skilled staff from the national park in close collaboration with local communities.

A major obstacle is that the WKNP agency itself does not have sufficient resources to fully finance the ongoing operation of CRUs. Therefore the continuation and possible expansion of the successful CRU work relies much on external funding support.
Monitoring the migration of wild elephants
Wishing for Elephant Surprises
Last month was filled with "surprises" - both the uplifting and the burdensome kind:  Dr. Stremme's request for a scale, Ms. Anonymous's offer to do a dollar-for-dollar fundraising match, and the Santa Barbara Zoo Liz's offer to do fund-raisers to help, too. It certainly looks like Dr. Stremmes' new scale is a real possibility!

And now this ... (drum-roll please) ... a friend of AES Secretary Vanessa Gagne, Ashley Smith, has stepped forward with a great offer! Like all of us, Ashley is in love with elephants and has decided to celebrate September 22nd - Elephant Appreciation Day - all month long!

Ashley is a stylist for Stella & Dot, and is donating 15% of her sales to AES's Scale Campaign. And, as a special bonus, she is donating the full commission from sales of the Elephant Wishing Bracelets! How perfect! What a great gift, or to treat yourself! Around the world, Wishing Bracelets have a universal message of love and hope. And Elephants are one of the oldest symbols of good fortune, strength, patience, and wisdom. Wouldn't you like to give someone near and dear to your heart all of that?
Please celebrate along with us and support Ashley's efforts. You will have to order through this “trunk” show link
We'd also love to hear about your efforts to help Dr. Stremme get a new scale. Remember, we have until midnight Sunday, November 1, 2015. Help us help elephants, GO TEAM!

We have one Knitty left that needs a home!  
Trumpets To:  
Chris Reifschneider

We receive so many inquiries and compliments on our Asian Elephant Support logo, we wanted to acknowledge Chris Reifschneider for both its design and creation and also for the website design, implementation and support he has offered us since the very beginning.  We appreciate and applaud his efforts in helping us help elephants.  Chris’ email is

Connect With Us!
Email Us
Purchase an AES T-Shirt!
Proceeds from t-shirts sales will be used to fulfill our mission. 
Test your elephant knowledge!  

August's answer:  By the age of 2 an elephant calf can fully use its trunk.  

September's Question: 
What was the first civilization to have tamed the Asian elephant?

Check back next month for the answer!
Like to Make a Contribution?
Donate Today!

AES' Celebration of World Elephant Day

August 12th – the day to recognize and speak out for elephants – all elephants!

Jenny Joyce, Curator and Elephant Manager at Grant’s Farm in St. Louis, MO, and home of four African elephants: Mickey (Michelob), Bud (Budweiser), Toby, and Max, invited our president, Linda Reifschneider, to join their celebration and represent Asian elephants and the work of AES.

The weather was perfect; the Grants Farm staff had lots of activities and handouts for attendees.  And who better to be a winning ambassador for elephants than the elephants themselves, demonstrating behaviors with that elephantine winning charm while their keepers explained both the challenges facing elephants on their long trek into the next century as well as things each of us can do to make a difference.
Our thanks to Jenny and her entire crew: Brian Hollingsworth, Toni Scala- manning the activities that day, Katie Vechi, Angie Devous, Sam Weese, and Carrie Zbinden - caring for the elephants and also helping with event set-up and cleanup. It was a trumpeting success and we appreciated being included.
World Elephant Day 

by Ms. Mamatha Satyanarayana

Greetings from the home of Elephants!  I hope my e-mail finds you all in high spirits.  Wishing you all a good "World Elephant Day (WED) 2015".

My school, De Paul International Residential School had a poster making competition to commemorate the day. Students did team work to highlight the significance and objectives of WED. Legendary actor Mr.Prakash Raj, who is the brand ambassador for Save Tiger Campaign, was the chief guest to speak on the program and awarded prize winners of the poster competition. Students contributed  25 thousand Rupees for the conservation project.

I would like to take this opportunity to thank AES for their support as well as Mrs.Heidi Riddle for her timely guidelines and encouragement. This program created awareness among one thousand students of the school, double when they shared with their parents and countless when published in the newspaper.

With many thanks and warm regards,
Program Coordinator
De Paul Institutions, India
 “For in the end, we will conserve only what we love.
We will love only what we understand.

We will understand only what we are taught.” 
-Baba Dioum
We  wish to extend a very sincere thank you to each donor who has voted their support with a financial gift. We value that confidence and will always do our best for the animals we all care for so deeply.

 Please visit our website ( and follow us on Facebook (Asian Elephant Support).  If you have questions, please  contact us.   We appreciate your support. Please consider a donation to help Asian elephants and those who care for them.


Copyright © 2014 Asian Elephant Support, All rights reserved.
You are receiving this email because you have requested to receive our monthly newsletter or have donated to our organization.

Our mailing address is:
Asian Elephant Support
4764 Brookton Way
St. Louis, MO 63128

Add us to your address book

unsubscribe from this list    update subscription preferences