Efforts to Decrease the Impacts of Human-Elephant Conflicts in Aceh | WWF Indonesia

Efforts to Decrease the Impacts of Human-Elephant Conflicts in Aceh



Posted on 03 January 2017   |  
Forum Masyarakat Peduli Gajah Krueng Sabee get some explanations from Syamsuardi how to direct elephant herds.
Forum Masyarakat Peduli Gajah Krueng Sabee get some explanations from Syamsuardi how to direct elephant herds.
© WWF-Indonesia
By. Chik Rini (Communication Officer WWF-Indonesia Program Aceh)
Translated by. Siti Fatimah Ayuningdyah

 
Since 2015, WWF-Indonesia has been giving assistance to villages affected by human-elephant conflicts (HEC) in Aceh. At first, this is only part of the response given by WWF after a farmer named Hasan Basri died after being attacked by an elephant when he, along with Tim Delapan, was trying to direct an elephant herd out of an agricultural area in Pintu Rime Gayo, Bener Meriah District in October 2015. 
 
Tim Delapan is a HEC mitigation team that was established and initiated by the community members, led by Suherry, an animal rights activist in Bener Meriah. They have never received training and socialization about the techniques in directing elephant herds. Everything was learned through practice on the field.
 
Thus, WWF-Indonesia via its Flying Squad from Riau came to give assistance and training on how to safely direct elephant herds. Tim Delapan became the first team trained by WWF’s Flying Squad. They gained a new knowledge on how to direct elephant herds in ways that are safe, effective, and affordable. Tim Delapan is currently one of the teams trusted by the government in Bener Meriah and Central Aceh to help mitigate HEC. 
 
Suherry stated that this training gave a lot of new information to them. “Before the training, we led elephants away by following wherever they go. But we were not observing their habits. After this training from WWF, we now know which ones are herd elephants, which are solitary elephants. The biggest benefit of this training is that now we can avoid accidents. We used to keep close distance to elephants, but now we know that we have to keep a minimum distance of 50 m. The most important thing out of the session is the directing techniques and the information on elephant characteristics. We hope that our team will gain the trust of the government as well as the public.” 
 
The training does not stop with Tim Delapan. HEC that keep happening in Aceh pushes WWF to develop more community groups in villages affected by HEC. The villagers have no choice but to be ready to be able to independently mitigate HEC to ensure that fatalities and other damages (i.e. crops, infrastructures) are prevented.
 
In the past two years, Syamsuardi and Ruswanto from the Flying Squad have been regularly visiting Aceh to conduct training sessions for community groups in different villages. WWF spreads proven mitigation practices that have been tested for 20 years by the Flying Squad. The practices include directing techniques, safety distance, reading elephant characteristics, and avoiding unsafe methods, thus avoiding fatalities from either side.
 
WWF also trained the participants on how to make and use conflict mitigation tools that are affordable such as cannons. These affordable tools can be alternative solutions to firecrackers, which cost significantly more, for when they direct elephant herds.
 
Syamsuardi always emphasizes the main principles in directing elephant herds. “What we are doing is building communications with elephants. Cannons are not tools to scare elephants, but a communication tool. The hope is that each elephant that hears the sound of the cannons gets the message to move away from the sound.” As stated by Syamsuardi in front of the teams he trained.
 
As of today, WWF has distributed 230 cannons to community groups. To date, 300 people have been trained, and that includes farmers, Imuem Mukim, Pawang Uteuen, community rangers, NGO members, forum members, forest police, military officers, and the police in Peusangan Watershed, Krueng Sabee Watershed, and Pidie. In this training, women groups in the villages are also actively participating as they often come in contact with elephants when they work in the field or farm.
 
Currently, training sessions are still conducted in villages along the Peusangan Watershed, seeing as the intensity of HEC is currently very high within this area. Due to community demand, there are now groups similar to Tim Delapan in other trained areas. Among them is the Community Care for Elephant Forum in Krueng Sabee. They have 35 members and led by Imuem Mukim M. Yusuf. Apart from that, in the villages of Bergang and Karang Ampar several farmers led by Muslim have also started an initiative to independently lead elephants away from community farms. 
 
WWF continues to provide assistance to improve the capabilities of the trained teams. The teams receive further training on how to identify elephants by their feces and footsteps, as well as designing early detectors and monitoring towers in areas where elephants enter and exit. Hopefully, the teams in these villages can shoulder even more of the load in preventing negative impacts to humans and elephants that are often the results of improperly mitigated HEC. 
 
 
Forum Masyarakat Peduli Gajah Krueng Sabee get some explanations from Syamsuardi how to direct elephant herds.
Forum Masyarakat Peduli Gajah Krueng Sabee get some explanations from Syamsuardi how to direct elephant herds.
© WWF-Indonesia Enlarge
Syamsuardi is explaining how to identify elephants by their feces and footsteps.
Syamsuardi is explaining how to identify elephants by their feces and footsteps.
© WWF-Indonesia Enlarge

Comments

blog comments powered by Disqus