Sumatran Elephant  photo: Nicolas Cegalerba
Sumatran Elephant photo: Nicolas Cegalerba

Securing the Future of Harapan Rainforest's Elephants

Why is this project so important?

The Sumatran elephant is the most threatened in the world, being classified as Critically Endangered by the IUCN. The remaining population of 1,720 elephants exists in fragmented populations across Sumatra. Harapan Rainforest, in the central province of Jambi, is a region of high quality elephant habitat, despite being selectively logged in the past. The forest could sustain a population of more than 100 elephants, but only a very small population of up to 15 females was found during surveys in 2016. Poaching pressure is thought to be high in Harapan, and human-elephant conflict (HEC) is also present at the border of the protected area. But there is great potential for Harapan to become a stronghold for a key elephant population that could play a vital role in the survival of this subspecies. Establishing a viable breeding population within Harapan, and then ensuring that poaching and HEC is prevented and mitigated, are both crucial for this to be successful.

Project Partner: Burung Indonesia

Duration: 2018

Sumatran elephant population in Harapan Rainforest: 7-15 (potential for >100)

Project goal

To establish and conserve a viable elephant population within Harapan Rainforest

What we do

To support efforts to build a viable breeding population, we are strengthening elephant protection and monitoring within Harapan. We are providing funding to replace a female elephant’s radio collar, which makes it possible to monitor elephant movements, and help protect them from poaching. Community Based Conflict Mitigation is the main strategy to reduce HEC in Harapan, which sees teams from villages and plantation companies receiving training in what to during HEC encounters, and in the safe and effective use of HEC mitigation techniques. Data on HEC, in combination with data on land-use changes, will be used to predict possible HEC areas that may arise in the future. Alongside this work to reduce the risk of illegal killings within Harapan, we are also thinking about the broader Harapan landscape, which is surrounded by industrial plantations and interspersed with settlements. By building relationships with landowners and other stakeholders, this project is driving the development of wildlife corridors to connect existing habitat fragments and protected areas, boosting the chances of long-term survival for the elephants of Harapan.