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The Sumatran elephant has lost almost 50% of its population in the last 10 years. It is the only elephant classified as critically endangered with less than 2,000 left in the wild today. 

Indonesia has the highest rate of deforestation in the world which is causing elephant populations to become scattered and isolated within tiny pockets of forest. Poor land-use planning, the growth of oil palm plantations and new farms have brought people and wild elephants into close proximity, leading to conflict. A herd of elephants can destroy an entire farm’s crops in a single night, prompting angry farmers to poison and shoot elephants in retaliation.

The Indonesian government used to deal with these conflicts by capturing elephants found outside the forest. It is estimated that two out of three elephants died during their capture, while those that survived were sent to ‘Elephant Training Camps’ and subjected to a brutal ‘taming’ process for a life in captivity, claiming the lives of many more. Between 2004 - 2009, hundreds of elephants that were involved in conflict situations were captured from the wild and held at these poorly equipped elephant camps that lacked trained vets, shade, water and other key facilities. In many cases, the elephants were left languishing, slowly starving to death or poisoned by festering wounds. There are currently as many as 300 Sumatran elephants still in captivity on the island and remains vital that the care of these elephants is integrated within conservation activities.

Isolated herds of wild elephants are also rapidly disappearing and in need of protection from poison and snares. Protecting forest habitats and mitigating human-elephant conflict has never been more important.