WWF's Elephant Flying Squad in Tesso Nilo | WWF Indonesia

WWF's Elephant Flying Squad in Tesso Nilo



Posted on 26 February 2007   |  
In 2004, WWF introduced the first Elephant Flying Squad to Riau Province in central Sumatra, to a village near the newly established Tesso Nilo National Park. It was a way to bring short-term relief to the intense conflict between people and elephants there and to create support for elephant conservation among hard-hit communities.

Because the region around Tesso Nilo is being logged so rapidly and the forest converted into agricultural plantations, elephants with no place to go are forced to wander in search of food, making farms and commercial plantations an irresistible temptation for elephant-sized appetites.

Picture 1&2: WWF's elephant flying squad team: a highly mobile quick response team that regularly patrols around elephant conflict areas and drives wild elephant back to the forest (Copyright picture: Syamsuardi/ WWF-Indonesia)

The concept for the flying squad has a long tradition in India and other places, but had not been used in central Sumatra before. WWF recruited mahouts and elephants from the elephant camps the Indonesian government maintains to house "problem elephants" caught crop-raiding. These eight men and four elephants, lead by a team leader, went through intensive training to bond them and make them an effective as a team to drive back wild elephants.

The project has been so successful that companies working in the area are starting their own Elephant Flying Squads to protect their crops from wild elephant raids.

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