1 Support of Conservation Response Units (CRU) at the Seblat ECC in Bengkulu Province Final Report G177 6/1/ /31/06 International Elephant Foundation (IEF) Deborah Olson Program Director P.O. Box 366 Azle, Texas
2 The International Elephant Foundation's (IEF) project to develop and support Conservation Response Units (CRU) at the Seblat Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) in Bengkulu Province, Sumatra, is enabling staff and trained elephants to play an active role in protecting the forests and wildlife in the vicinity of the ECC, while identifying and mitigating humanelephant conflict and raising community support and awareness of wildlife conservation. The CRU is a first step in the development of long-term strategy to improve the health and welfare of the captive elephant population in Sumatra while establishing an in situ wild elephant conservation program which benefits the community and surrounding ecosystem. In 2001, the IEF counted approximately 350 living elephants held in elephant training centers in Sumatra down from previous census totals of 750 demonstrating the low survival rate in the capturing, training and management process. Most of the centers and the elephants held in them were in poor condition. With international support, NGOs including IEF have attempted to improve conditions at these centers by encouraging the government of Sumatra to designate a purpose for the ETCs and to rename them Elephant Conservation Centers, to develop long-term management plans for each, and to place a moratorium on any additional captures of wild elephants. The Seblat ECC was established in 1992 as a result of a growing need to house elephants that were captured following incidents of human elephant conflict in Bengkulu Province. The province of Bengkulu covers just less than 20,000 sq km and is surrounded by the province of South Sumatra and the province of Jambi to the east, the Indian Ocean to the west, province of Lampung to the south, and the province of West Sumatra to the north. Natural vegetation types found in Bengkulu province consist of wet lowland evergreen forest and montane rainforest. Fauna found in Bengkulu include tiger, elephant, tapir, rhino, deer, wild boar, civet cat, and various species of birds and reptiles. The land assigned to the Seblat ECC covers 6865 hectares and is located on the bank of the Seblat River, providing an abundant supply of clean water for the elephants for drinking and bathing. Surrounding the Seblat ECC are a number of large scale palm oil plantations and ex-logging concessions. With forest conversion into plantations combined with logging activities surrounding the ECC, the Seblat ECC has become an important reservoir for wildlife. Rough surveys carried out by the provincial Bengkulu Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) had estimated the presence of wild elephants in the Seblat ECC area, however further, more comprehensive, studies are needed to verify the wild elephant population status. Due to the rich biodiversity found in the ECC forest area and the presence of captive elephants, the Seblat ECC area has potential to develop into an ecotourism destination. As human activities encroach into forest areas, the likelihood of humans and elephants coming into conflict increases. In the past fifteen years, Bengkulu BKSDA has witnessed an increasing number of incidents of wildlife (elephant and tiger) human conflict bordering the Seblat ECC conservation area. When elephants threaten lives, property and livelihoods, a response is required to ensure the safety of communities neighbouring elephant habitat. If appropriate action is not taken by the responsible authority, local people are likely to respond themselves, perhaps by killing entire herds of elephants. Capturing elephants when they come into contact with communities is not a sustainable solution to this problem. Over the years, IEF has established an excellent working relationship with the staff and forestry officials of the Bengkulu BKDSA and the Seblat ECC. One of the major problems
3 of the ECC is the lack of useful and important work for the elephants and their assigned handlers (mahouts). IEF sought a resolution that would have a conservation impact and be culturally acceptable. Based on other successful programs within Asia, IEF decided to investigate the development and operation of conservation response units. The development of a CRU at the Seblat ECC provides the Indonesians with an opportunity to earn additional income while improving the care and training of the elephants and assisting in important conservation efforts. The CRU project in Bengkulu Province is based on a model already established in another part of Sumatra by project partner Fauna and Flora International (FFI). CRUs conduct forest and wildlife monitoring, as well as support local communities to mitigate human-elephant conflict (HEC). Structure and Goals of the Seblat CRU The CRU utilizes once neglected captive elephants and their mahouts for direct field based conservation interventions to support the conservation of wild elephants and their habitat. The CRU project goals are to: Improve the management of the captive elephants at the Seblat ECC Manage the existing forest (6865 hectares) assigned to the ECC and the wildlife (elephants, tapirs, tigers, etc) in the forest. Assist in managing the corridor between the ECC land and the Kerinci Seblat National Park to allow movement of wildlife. This corridor area is the focus of a BKSDA request to change the land status of the area linking the ECC forest and the Kerinci Seblat National Park to a higher level of protection as a Conservation Area Assist surrounding communities in monitoring wild elephant movement to help mitigate human-elephant conflict Develop eco-tourism in and around the ECC, to help it and the surrounding community become more self-sustaining The CRU teams are composed of captive elephants and their mahouts, and government forest rangers. Captive elephants play an important role by providing transportation during forest monitoring patrol activities, as a tool for gaining local community interest during awareness events, and driving away crop raiding wild elephants should conflict incidents arise. Mahouts, as part of the CRU team, not only take care of the elephants but are involved in all CRU activities. Elephant-back patrols Each CRU conducts patrols for 7-10 consecutive days a month during which CRU team members record sightings or evidence of illegal activities, human-wildlife conflicts and wildlife presence. The team carries hand-held GPS units to properly identify sighting locations, and a digital camera for documentation purposes. They also fill out report sheets and a narrative when they return from patrol and this data is provided to the partner BKSDA offices. ACTIVITIES UNDERTAKEN TO ACHIEVE OBJECTIVES: Improve Forest Protection and Management Illegal Logging Since the establishment of a CRU unit in Seblat, the team has handled many cases of illegal logging. Most of the cases happened in the first months of the CRU operation. Currently, illegal logging activities handled by the team are few, and they primarily occur when the team expands its patrol area outside the ECC forest into the corridor between the ECC Seblat
4 forest and Kerinci Seblat National Park. The constant CRU presence in the field is effectively deterring illegal logging activity in this area. Land Encroachment The CRU found land encroachment to be the most difficult problem with which to deal. Most of the illegal settlers came from surrounding villages to acquire more land to cultivate crops. However, compared with the encroachment problem faced by the CRU in North Sumatra, Seblat showed much better results. Right after the CRU was established in Seblat, the team visited each group of illegal settlers and negotiated various alternative solutions. Most of the illegal settlers agreed to leave the area if time were given to them to harvest their remaining crops. To show their commitment they helped to demolish their temporarily huts, but asked to leave five of the huts to use when they harvested the crops. Some other groups left the area and returned to their original villages a few days after having being made aware of the situation by the CRU. However, there are still two remaining groups of illegal settlers in the area. One of the groups has claimed that they have been there since before the government designated the area as elephant forest. The other group occupies some land along the road crossing the Seblat forest area built by a palm oil plantation company, for which the group received permission from the BKSDA. This illegal settler group has only agreed to leave the area if BKSDA closes the road. A meeting was held involving the group representatives, the head of the sub- district and the sub-district military commander and police. BKSDA is in the process of reviewing the agreement with the plantation and considering revising the agreement and closing the road. Wildlife Protection Wildlife poaching is usually related to the presence of illegal settlements in the area, as many of the illegal settlers own snares to trap wildlife. The CRU team has demolished many snares, including both active ones and those kept by the illegal settlers. Most of these cases happened early in the CRU patrol period although active snares are still being found by the team which indicates that professional poachers are still active in this area. Some active snares were identified as targeting tigers, since they were set on tigers footprints. The CRU team in Seblat works closely with the FFI Tiger Protection Units operating in Kerinci-Seblat National Park. In a joint operation between CRU and the Tiger Protection Unit, the team successfully handled a tiger hunting case, confiscating a tiger skin, bones and two hand-made firearms. The case was handed over to the police department in Muko-Muko Selatan district. On September 9, 2006, three wild elephants were found trapped in a hole left from coal mining exploration. The CRU team found the elephants while conducting routine patrol in PLG Seblat forest. The two female and one male elephant fell into a muddy hole which was 3-4 meters deep, 4 meters long and 3 meters wide. The mud was 1.5 meters deep. It was believed that these elephants had been trapped in the hole for 3 days as they were very weak. Rescue efforts began immediately by first giving the elephants water and food and then by contacting the Camp, CRU Site Manager and BKSDA Bengkulu, for assistance. Help arrived in 4 mahouts and a veterinarian. Rescue efforts began that night in very difficult conditions of thick mud, hard rain, and lack of light. Two elephants were freed from the hole by using the patrol elephants to carry and place branches and logs in the hole for steps, but the
5 remaining female was too weak to climb out that night. The rescue continued the next morning and was successful. The CRU team drove the elephants back to the wild herd. The CRU is collecting data of wildlife sightings and signs, such as prints, dung, etc. The CRU is also maintaining records of wild elephant sightings to add to the database to verify wild elephant population status in the area. Mitigating human elephant conflict (HEC) The CRU concept addresses human-elephant conflict mitigation not only as an effort to avoid further risk of property loss, but of equal importance is elephant conservation. The CRU teams have been trained and subsequently developed their own capacity to assess HEC mitigation options in their specific working areas. The teams have collected detailed information from field-based assessments on various aspects of the issues of conflict. The pattern of human-elephant conflict, as expected, is intermittent. Teams respond as needed, often driving wild elephants back into the forest using the camp elephants, and recording detailed assessments of any site damage. Immediate response to human-elephant conflict incidents has become a routine CRU activity in the area. The team found that to be effective in driving the elephants back to the forest, a dominant male Kunkie is not always necessary. The human component of the team that sits on the elephant s back also plays a significant role in driving the wild elephant herd. Since initiating the preliminary CRU activity in Seblat, the CRU has been successful in lowering the elephant capture rate to only one elephant in five years. The community is helped and the wild elephants can still continue living in their habitat without capture. In order to mitigate the HEC in the Seblat forest area in the long term, the CRU has recommended that the protection status of the area be increased, the corridor secured and more forest blocks included that would connect the Seblat elephant habitat with the larger forest complex in Kerinci Seblat National Park. The new proposed elephant sanctuary size would be about 18,000 ha. It is also necessary to assess existing natural barriers and migration routes in order to be able to identify locations for artificial barriers or to anticipate the next cycle of the elephants visit. Attaching GPS collars to various elephants could provide a complete picture of the migration routes and habitat used by elephants. This knowledge would be very useful for future HEC strategies in these areas. The presence of the CRU has done much to dispel local fears, and the existence of the CRU is helping keep the HEC issue under control. The continued presence of the CRU will ensure that HEC issues do not create animosity in the local community, which has already led to large-scale elephant killings throughout Sumatra Awareness Programs Communities in critical conservation areas are exposed to elephants in a positive context when the CRU patrols pass through villages, and as they reduce human-elephant conflicts. These visits are used to reaffirm positive attitudes towards elephants and the link between elephant and habitat conservation, promoting a message of tolerance and understanding of the needs of wild elephants, as well as improving attitudes towards the intrinsic value of wildlife. Conservation awareness programs conducted by the CRU include school visit activities, village visits, slide and film programs, games and competitions for visitors and communities living in surrounding areas. CRU project partners have developed flyers with general
6 information about elephants, conservation and the CRU project, as well as a similarly themed children s booklet which is handed out during community awareness activities. Capacity Building To build the capacity of staff, community and partners remains a main objective of the CRU. With the establishment of each CRU team, capacity building has been an initial focus for staff and project partners. Training sessions have been conducted with topics covering: Survey and forest monitoring techniques, including basic navigation techniques using a hand held GPS Human-elephant conflict mitigation Community awareness Most of the CRU team members have little educational background, yet through a series of capacity building activities have been trained in assessing and selecting priority areas for CRU activities and field patrols, operating hand held GPS units, filling in standardised datasheets for forest patrolling and conducting HEC assessments. This empowerment has provided a sense of dignity to the mahouts, a yet unexplored potential source of human resources working for field-based conservation. With the support of IEF, one of the CRU team leaders was sent to the elephant camp at the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary (India) to learn different methods for similar projects (i.e. patrols, camp management, etc). IEF supported the first mahout workshop in Sumatra held in 2006 to establish a communication forum to share knowledge amongst representative mahouts from each of the various camps in Sumatra. Elephant Related Eco-tourism Sumatra has a large potential for nature-based tourism to generate income for local communities even though many of Sumatra s mega vertebrates, such as elephants, rhinos and tigers, are difficult to view because of their low densities, dense vegetation and difficult terrain. However, at some CRU sites there is the potential to set up elephant related tourism projects. The CRU in Seblat is developing a plan for long-term sustainability, as well as a publicity campaign to promote the issue of eco-tourism. Mid-year Progress Report - November 22-30, 2005 The IEF team (Heidi Riddle, Dr. David Kenny) and FFI team met with Pak Agung, new head of the Bengkulu Province BKSDA to discuss the CRU project, and IEF support of the project and of the Seblat ECC. The team invited Pak Agung to come to the ECC with them, which he did, and all travelled to Seblat. The team arrived right after one of the CRU units who were returning from dealing with a human-elephant conflict several hours drive from the ECC. That evening at the ECC the FFI Team Leader, Edy Sunardi, gave a presentation about his experience at the Jaldapara camp in India. In September Edy did a study tour, supported by IEF, of the elephant camp located in the Jaldapara Wildlife Sanctuary in West Bengal, India. During his stay Edy observed and learned about elephant management at the camp and participated in routine patrols, both on elephant-back and on foot. The tour was very informative and Edy had already made several presentations to various ECCs and BKSDA in Bengkulu, North Sumatra and Aceh. Dr. Christopher Stremme, a guest veterinarian, gave a presentation about the work with elephants in Aceh after the tsunami. The mahouts were provided with new uniforms for the entire staff. There is a separate uniform for everyday duties and one for CRU activities so that all pawangs feel involved in IEF support of the ECC, even if they are not part of the CRU unit.
7 The IEF and FFI team checked the health of all Seblat ECC elephants. The elephants all appear to be in good condition. Using the digital scale, each elephant was weighed, and given a dose of Ivermectin. Each elephant s microchip (TROVAN ID 100 transponder) was scanned (with a TROVAN LID 571 hand-held reader) for verification. All the microchips were easily located and there did not seem to be any movement of the chips. The team observed some routine training being done with 2 young bulls. One of the bulls has been at the ECC for several years but was very young when he first arrived so he only received minimal training. The second bull was captured earlier in the year as he had become a problem, repeatedly raiding crops and had injured several of the ECC elephants when they were tethered in the forest to graze. The bull is doing well. The IEF team inventoried pharmacy items at the camp along with the camp veterinarian Yanti Erni, who is currently supported by IEF. Fecals were run on several elephants that appeared to have lost condition and some tested positive for liver flukes (fasciola) in addition to strongyles. The suggestion was to treat all ECC elephants with Albendazole two times a year in addition to the regular Ivermectin deworming. The team participated in an elephant back trek. As part of the re-design process of the riding pads for the CRU patrols, new girth straps were tested and did not work as well as planned. More modifications were made. In addition the middle girth straps on each pad were removed, as these straps tended to slide forward and were not as necessary to hold the pad down as the front and rear girth straps. Prior to leaving for the United States, the IEF team met again with Pak Agung at the Bengkulu BKSDA office to discuss the future of the CRU and implementation of the change of land status in the forest around the ECC as well as a corridor area to the National Park. Mid-year Progress Report - July 20-31, 2006 Since the last IEF inspection trip in November 2005, the ECC staff had done a lot of general clean-up and re-building work at the camp and was in the process of re-doing all the bathrooms and septic systems. There has also been a change in the management of the ECC, so there are work schedules for the entire staff. The overall moral is much better. The ECC staff had planted a supplemental elephant food plot at the camp that includes banana trees, pineapple, sugar cane and elephant grass. The camp elephants are also fed a grain mix of rice hulls and any other easily available grain, with mineral salts and palm sugar. This grain mixture is fed once a week. The IEF (Heidi Riddle and Dr. Jeffrey Proudfoot) and FFI team with the ECC veterinarian Dr. Yanti Erni (supported by IEF) checked the health of all twenty-three Seblat ECC elephants. The elephants all appear to be in good condition. The digital scale was not working and a decision was made to bring it back to the United States for repairs. The last documented individual elephant weight was used to determine the dose of Ivermectin. Each elephant was also inoculated with Rabies and Tetanus vaccine. One bull, wild caught in May 2005, is undergoing treatment for a lesion that now presents itself as a hole in his neck connecting to the inside of the mouth and has created a pocket
8 which fills with chewed fodder. This pocket is cleaned out and flushed daily and some recommendations for minor changes in the treatment were suggested by the IEF veterinarian. The IEF team inventoried pharmacy items at the camp along with the ECC veterinarian. Dr. Yanti Erni had requested these medical supplies which were donated by IEF. The IEF and FFI teams met with the mahouts and some BKSDA Forest Rangers to discuss issues surrounding the ECC and the CRU project. The mahouts were very enthusiastic about the idea of sharing information by hosting staff from other ECCs for a Sumatra-wide mahout meeting. This workshop, supported by BKSDA, IEF and FFI, was then scheduled for November 29-30, There was a recent problem with the ECC and surrounding communities. The CRU staff expressed frustration that local people are figuring out patrol schedules and routes then waiting for the CRU units to pass before coming back into the ECC forest to cut trees, set wildlife traps, etc. The CRU staff suggested setting up outposts along the edge of the ECC forest with at least 2 elephants and staff that would rotate as a way of helping to protect the forest. Recently the CRU patrols arrested 2 locals who were logging illegally in the ECC forest. As a result three communities neighbouring the ECC became upset and have asked BKSDA to close or move the ECC. The ECC staff has been renewing efforts to get support from surrounding communities. Returning to Jakarta, the FFI and IEF team met with Pak Adi Susmianto, Director of Species Conservation for Biodiversity Conservation for the Ministry of Forestry (PHKA) and his Deputy, Pak Herry Djoko. At the invitation of IEF, several representatives of other NGOs working in Sumatra elephant conservation also attended the meeting. The primary purpose of the meeting was to update PHKA about the Seblat CRU project and discuss the implementation of the change of land status in the forest around the ECC as well as the corridor area to the Kerinci Seblat National Park. General issues of Sumatra elephant conservation were also discussed. In response to a question from the IEF team about Sumatra elephant issues that PHKA feels are important to develop in the short-term, Pak Adi's suggestions were: 1. Develop mahout skills, improve camp management (i.e. for tourism, etc) and learn from a successful elephant facility 2. Survey of suitable elephant habitat in Sumatra in order to establish areas where small pocketed elephant populations could be relocated and/or combined 3. General elephant population survey especially looking at age and gender structure 4. Develop sustained elephant conservation funding (some will be provided by the government) Mid-year Progress Report - November 26 -December 8, 2006 The purpose of the trip was to evaluate the Bengkulu Conservation Response Unit project and to jointly host the first Sumatra-wide Mahout Workshop at the Seblat ECC in Bengkulu Province. The intent of this workshop was to get together Sumatra mahouts from all the different Elephant Conservation Centers, elephant management units and conservation organizations to discuss the various issues in these facilities, as well as conditions, technical and management problems faced by mahouts and ECCs in their work with elephants and habitat conservation efforts.
9 The IEF team (Heidi Riddle and Charlie Gray) arrived in Jakarta and met the FFI team and Dr. Meenakshi Nagendran, Project Officer of the US Fish and Wildlife Service Asian Elephant Conservation Fund, and travelled together to the ECC in Seblat in Benkulu Province. Since the last IEF trip in July 2006, the ECC staff had continued to do lot of general clean up and re-building of the camp. The camp was very neat in preparation for the workshop. The supplemental elephant food plot had grown well. Through the financial support of IEF Board member Martha Fisher and the St Louis Zoo, the Seblat camp staff had built a new river crossing raft system and was very pleased about having something safe and functional. The IEF team brought a laptop computer to the Seblat ECC, a donation from IEF Board member Tom Albert and Feld Entertainment, Inc. The laptop will be used at the camp to keep medical records on the elephants as well as patrol data information from the CRU. The IEF team also brought the repaired scale back to the camp and some medical items requested by the ECC veterinarian, Dr. Yanti Erni, as well as IEF literature to be distributed to workshop participants. The first Mahout Workshop in Indonesia, a collaboration between BKSDA, IEF and FFI, was held at the Seblat ECC on November The Director of Biodiversity Conservation for the Ministry of Forestry (PHKA), Pak Adi Susmianto, came to ECC Seblat with the new head of BKSDA Bengkulu, Pak Johanes, to open the Workshop. FFI was also represented by their Country Representative, Pak Jito Sugarjito. All of them spent the entire first day at the Workshop listening to the presentations and asking questions. In addition to the Workshop hosts, Vesswic (Sumatra Veterinary Society) supported 8 mahouts from North Sumatra and Aceh and sent 2 staff veterinarians; Wildlife Conservation Society supported 1 mahout from Way Kambas; WWF supported one of their Flying Squad patrol mahouts and 2 WWF staff members also attended. All together 44 participants in addition to the staff of the Seblat ECC attended the workshop, and all elephant camps in Sumatra were represented (Tahura Bukit Barisan Tongkoh Berastagi (2), PKG Seblat, PKG Minas (3), PKG Sumsel (2), PKG Way Kambas (4), UPG Aras Napal (2), PKG Saree (4), CRU Tangkahan (2), PKG Holiday Resort Sumut (4), and Flying Squad Team (3)). During the first day of the Workshop each Province having elephant camps gave a presentation about their camp(s) with general information such as number (age and gender) of elephants, number of staff, use of the elephants, type of camp site, etc. There was a question/answer session after every 3 presentations. In the evening the IEF team gave presentations about IEF and about the North American facility, African Lion Safari. One of the Vesswic veterinarians also gave a presentation about what mahouts should know about basic elephant medical care. The second day of the Workshop started with practical demonstrations from one of the IEF team and one of the Vesswic veterinarians. The demonstration started with what a veterinarian would expect an elephant to be trained for i.e. stand still, pick up a foot, open its mouth, allow a general overall check, etc. One of the Seblat ECC elephants was used to discuss methods of training and restraint and the mahouts had many questions. The rest of the day the mahouts discussed the future of their profession and the question of whether they wanted to establish some group or forum to have a better means of exchanging experiences and ideas. This discussion went on very late that night and the mahouts were all actively involved.
10 The Workshop closing was postponed to the morning of December 1 so the discussions could be finished. The mahouts gave a presentation about what their discussions had accomplished. They voted to establish a Communication Forum and discussed how it would be structured. The official name of the forum will be the Communication Forum for Sumatra Mahouts ( Forum Komunikasi Mahout Sumatra ). They voted to have a Mahout Workshop every year and to host the next one (2007) in Aceh Province. The Chairman of the Forum, elected by the members, is Nazaruddin one of the most senior mahouts in Indonesia from PKG Way Kambas, the elected Secretary is Khairil from PKG Holiday Resort (Sumatera Utara). The meeting also defined and elected other positions in the Forum organization such as Treasurer, Partnership Coordinator, Capacity Building Coordinator, Data and Information Coordinator, Mahout and Elephant Welfare Coordinator. Regional Coordinators, from each PKG province, were also elected. Adi Susmianto (Director of Biodiversity Conservation Ditjen PHKA) and Widodo S. Ramono are nominated to sit on the Forum Advisory Board. The Forum s vision is to achieve mahout professionalism in Sumatran elephant work and habitat conservation efforts; whereas the mission is to increase the capacity and competency of mahouts in Sumatran elephant work and habitat conservation efforts, to create an information and communication system between mahouts in Sumatra, and to increase the welfare of mahouts and Sumatran elephants. To achieve the Forum s goals, ongoing activities are planned: Increasing capacity and competency of mahouts in Sumatran elephant work and habitat conservation efforts through training and comparative studies, by creating mahout competency standards and certification, and by finding solutions to conflicts in PKG areas Creating an information and communication system among mahouts in Sumatra through a mahout-elephant database; issuing a twice-yearly updated information sheet; creating a website and a secretariat, and conducting an annual mahout meeting Increasing mahout and Sumatran elephant welfare through studies and recommendations to the government and other concerned institutions; incentive standardization in the PKG; professional allowance, insurance, staff status, on-time monthly administration management; camp facility renovations; recommendation and development of an ethics code; recommendations of elephant welfare efforts and fund raising by the Forum. At the invitation of Pak Adi Susmianto, Director of Biodiversity Conservation for PHKA, the IEF Team met with him in his office in Jakarta to give a brief report about the Mahout Workshop and the newly established Communication Forum. Pak Adi was pleased to hear about the successful outcome of the Workshop. Immediate Action Items: The CRU project started in Bengkulu using 2 patrol teams (units) each team is comprised of 3 elephants, 3 mahouts, 3 forest rangers from KSDA Bengkulu and 1 Team Leader. IEF has added at least one more elephant and mahout, on a rotational basis, as a CRU trainee position. Pak Aswin of the Bengkulu BKSDA is currently ensuring ongoing CRU project oversight. Within the next couple of months a representative from the local community will also participate in the patrols.
11 The Bengkulu BKSDA has assigned an officer (Pak Mirwan), with some experience in database and GIS work, to collect and analyze the GPS data generated by the CRU project. Pak Mirwan needs additional training. IEF has been supporting the veterinarian Dr. Yanti Erni with a small stipend for one year, to ensure ongoing health care for the camp elephants. Dr. Yanti has also been sent to other ECCs by BKSDA Bengkulu to learn more about medical management. IEF will extend the support of Dr. Yanti Erni. A suggestion has been made for IEF to send a western veterinary technician during one of the IEF trips to show veterinary staff in Sumatra how to do blood smears and simple blood analysis under field conditions at the camp. Additionally IEF would donate a poster of intestinal parasites common to elephants and one of elephant blood cells for easy and valuable reference at the ECC. It would be helpful to staff in other ECCs if prior to this visit an invitation was sent to other ECCs suggesting they send their veterinarian or veterinary technicians to learn these various techniques and share information. The local Police department is still willing to do a short workshop on law enforcement for the CRU teams and Pak Aswin is checking on scheduling this with the new Chief of Police BKSDA Bengkulu started the process in 2005 to request the status conversion of land close to the ECC, namely a corridor to the nearby Kerinci Seblat National Park. The goal is to manage the land surrounding the ECC by increasing the status as a Conservation Area. This change of status needs to be issued by the Minister of Forestry. Currently the ECC land is Protected Forest (which can be easily changed to Production Forest or other functions by the local government). At the request of BKSDA Bengkulu, IEF has already written a letter to the Forestry Ministry supporting this change of land status. In the corridor area, a local Bupati (community leader) has signed off on approximately two hundred permits since February for transmigration people to settle in that area. Some permits allowing logging in the corridor have also been signed. PHKA has sent a letter asking for further investigation into the situation as the permits are not all legal. In the meantime there are 44 families already established in the corridor area. The BKSDA and CRU staff do not have jurisdiction in that area and are reluctant to get involved in anything more than observing the situation at this point. Some additional ideas for the next step of the ECC Seblat project were suggested: 1. Developing a local community involvement project to start immediately 2. Increasing wildlife studies in the ECC forest (i.e. elephant foraging ecology; movement tracking perhaps by radio-collaring a few individual elephants; camera trap identification to determine numbers of species such as tiger, tapir...) 3. Continuing and expanding the scope of the CRU patrols, especially as HEC is widening in the province due to the expansion of oil palm plantations 4. Purchasing land in the corridor area to secure it BKSDA is interested in developing ecological studies with the Seblat ECC and interested parties to promote the importance of the ECC forest and corridor as a Conservation Area.
12 IEF is interested in projects at the Seblat Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) in Bengkulu Province that will build upon, and further advance work done by IEF (in partnership with FFI since 2000), initially focusing on one ECC in Sumatra and establishing the Seblat ECC as a self-sustaining focal point for elephant conservation. The information generated by CRU patrol data is helping to develop a master plan to manage the conservation area, plus develop means for the ECC to become more self-sustaining. The CRU project is also a model for wildlife conservation and forest protection in Sumatra providing otherwise unemployed captive elephants and mahouts important roles in habitat protection and species preservation.
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