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The implementation of an Early Warning Strategy for Elephants and Humans Conflict Mitigation in Koto Pait Beringin Village, Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu (GSK-BB) Grant Area

Belantara Foundation provides grants to the Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu Ecosystem Consortium to carry out conservation programs, especially programs that protect endangered animals and handle elephant-human conflicts in the Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu (GSK-BB) area.

One form of the grant support was the allocation and support of establishing of a conflict mitigation team by our partner, Rimba Satwa Foundation in Kotopait Beringin Village. This team will be tasked to overcome the elephant-human conflict in the village by protecting the elephant's conservation area and therefore protecting the communities from destruction by the wandering elephants.

Here is the story of the field contributor, Zulhusni Syukri, Head of the Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Team, and a member of the Consortium of Ecosystem Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu (GSK-BB), the implementing partner of  Belantara Foundation's program.

Here is the story of field contributor, Zulhusni Syukri, Head of the Elephant-Human Conflict Mitigation Team and a member of the Giam Siak Kecil Bukit Batu (GSK-BB) Ecosystem Consortium—the implementing partner of Belantara Foundation's program.

After receiving news from Mr. Brema Sitepu (Head of the conflict mitigation team) on the possibility of a wild elephant group heading to Kotopait Beringin Village, the villagers are quickly notified and told to be vigilant.

At the moment, Mr. Syafrinaldi (the Rimba Satwa patrol team coordinator) is in Melibur Village following the movements of the elephant group approaching the Kotopait Beringin Village.  Cloudy weather followed by drizzle is causing the wild elephant group increasingly eager to walk and search for food between the acacia plants owned by PT Arara Abadi—bordering directly with the Kotopait Beringin Village.

Two patrol teams continue to monitor the movement of the wild elephant group. Meanwhile, at the village boundary, two other patrol teams, together with Samsuardi (nicknamed Sam Gajah) were assisted by the local community to create a strategy to herd the wild elephant group.

© Rimba Satwa
© Rimba Satwa

The screeching trumpet of the elephant leader calling its group is heard, causing the patrol team and the community to be more alert. At 19.03, the wild elephant group is seen approaching the community's plantation. The patrol team, together with the community's mitigation team starts the herding maneuvers by sounding loud cannons simultaneously. The canons were fired by five mitigation team members lining up three meters apart while walking towards the elephants to steer them away from the community's plantation.

© Rimba Satwa

At 21.45 pm, with well-established coordination and communication, the wild elephant group of 35-40 elephants can be herded back into the Industrial Planting Forest which borders directly to the community's plantation. The team used this opportunity for dinner and have discussions with the local community, but one hour later, the wild elephant group came back to the community's plantation. This time the team had to work harder because now the wild elephant group came and divided into small groups. Even so, with the provided assistance, and the cohesiveness and growing confidence of the community, we were able to herd the elephant group as far as 2 km away from the communities homes, and worked until 03.00 am.

© Rimba Satwa

Efforts to deal with wild elephant groups can only hurt the team and the community if not dealt with the right way and technique. Our work has not stopped here, right now the RSF team, together with BKSDA and Tasik Serai villagers are still struggling with wild elephant groups approaching the community settlements.

The community was very appreciative of what the Rimba Satwa team have done because there had never been any attention or action taken in this village.

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