General Secretary and Acting General Director of Natural Resources and Ecosystem Conservation (KSDAE) of the Ministry of Environment and Forestry of the Republic of Indonesia (KLHK), Bambang Hendroyono, visited a collaborative site at the Padang Sugihan Wildlife Reserve (19/3). The collaboration between the South Sumatra Natural Resource Conservation (BKSDA) Office and PT OKI Pulp & Paper Mills is stated in the Agreement Number PKS.1150/K.12/TU/REN/7/2020 and Number 09/CAD-OKI/EM/07/2020 on Strengthening Functions through the Ecosystem Recovery and Fire Prevention in the Padang Sugihan Wildlife Reserve (SM), South Sumatra Province.
This visit aimed to oversee the program's progress and the preparedness for potential fire prevention. During the visit, APP Sinar Mas delivered 1 (unit) GPS collar for wild Sumatran elephants to the South Sumatra BKSDA. The delivery of the GPS Collar is part of the collaboration between the South Sumatra BKSDA and PT OKI Pulp & Paper Mills as stipulated in the agreement Number PKS.2844/K.12/TU/REN/12/2022 and Number 74/SSE-JKT/APP/ PKS/12/2022 concerning Reinforcing Functions of the Padang Sugihan Wildlife Sanctuary and Surrounding Areas through Support for the Protection and Security of Biodiversity Conservation Areas and Ecosystem Recovery. This activity complements the GPS collars that were attached to two groups of elephants in the Air Sugihan habitat in May 2022.
The intention of the visit is to ensure the continuity of the officers-on-field presence as per the RBM implementation at the South Sumatera KSDA Office, as well as to improve technology and innovation in the managed areas and biodiversity, primarily wild elephants handling, and lastly, preventing peatland fires repeatedly at Padang Sugihan Wildlife Center.
Apart from witnessing the handover of the GPS Collar, the Acting General Director of KSDAE, Bambang Hendroyono, also planted trees and released one brown Asian forest tortoise (Manouria emys) and three estuarine crocodiles (Crocodylus porosus). The four individual protected animals are the results of the community’s evacuation/handover to the South Sumatra BKSDA and have gone through the process of rehabilitation and health checks.
“It is very important to mitigate human-elephant conflict by using GPS collar technology to increase the accuracy while monitoring the Sumatran elephant population in various groups. In the future, elephant-human conflict must be managed properly and reduced significantly,” he said.
Bambang Hendroyono also explained that the normalization work progress of the Tampin-Tambals rivers (21.50 km) and the Cakur-Tambals rivers (23.30 km) in the Padang Sugihan Wildlife Reserve area has provided hydrological benefits for water ecosystems and other terrestrial ecosystems around them. This also supports species conservation efforts and the stability of peat ecosystems; and is one of the best practices for managing landscapes as well as solutions from the field. Of course, this effort requires the support of the Regional Government, the private sector, academics, the public, and the media.
Meanwhile, Chief Sustainability Officer APP Sinar Mas, Elim Sritaba said that going forward, APP Sinar Mas will continue to support the installation of GPS collars for other groups of elephants in the area. The installation of GPS collars that have been carried out on two different groups of wild elephants is to mitigate conflicts between humans and elephant animals, especially the people around them who are affected, as well as monitor the movements of these protected animals in real-time to ensure their safety.
Apart from that, APP Sinar Mas will also provide support to the South Sumatra BKSDA in the program to establish a Conflict Independent Village in the Padang Sugihan SM buffer zone.
The installation of GPS collars for protected animals is a new technology used worldwide. The GPS collar that is attached to the elephant, battery is designed to last up to 3 years.
The GPS collar was previously attached to Meilani (40) and Meisi (30), who are the dominant female elephants in their group. Apart from being carried out on the leader of the elephants in the group, the installation of the GPS collar also requires that the female elephant is over 25 years old and not in a state of pregnancy. This effort is part of the mitigation activities for overcoming human-wildlife conflict.
This event was attended by the Acting Head of BP2SDM, Director of Conservation Area Management, Head of KLHK Public Relations Bureau, APP Sinar Mas, Head of South Sumatra BKSDA, Head of UPT KLHK for South Sumatra, and South Sumatra Provincial Forestry Service.