Palembang, South Sumatera - In order to carry out the monitoring of Sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus sumatranus) in the Kantong Habitat Sugihan (Sugihan Habitat Pocket) - Simpang Heran, Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) Regency, the South Sumatra’s Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA Sumsel) together with other parties has carried out the installation of GPS Collars on two wild elephant groups.
The head of the South Sumatra’s BKSDA, Ujang Wisnu Barata said that this step was a part of efforts to mitigate conflict and at the same time monitor the effectiveness of space use (roaming routes), based on scientific studies carried out through collaboration between one of APP Sinar Mas' business units, PT. OKI Pulp & Paper Mills as well as APP Sinar Mas supplier partner, PT. BAP (Bumi Andalas Permai) and the Association of Animal Forest Networks (PJHS), assisted by the Indonesian Elephant Conservation Forum (FKGI). The results of the study were already discussed on April 7, 2022.
As the continuation, this activity is set to be an action in increasing the in-situ conservation efforts to preserve the Sumatran elephant, which is the prioritized endangered species in South Sumatra.
“The process and stages of installing GPS Collars on two groups of elephants have been conducted since April 2022, through the stages of surveying the presence of the target elephant group, preparing the team and equipment, as well as approaching the community and other stakeholders. Our appreciation goes to all participating parties for their supports in monitoring biodiversity and particularly the presence of wild elephants in the concession area, which is part of the entire Sugihan-Simpang Heran elephant habitat. This effort is indeed an obligation for every concession holder as part of the Corporate Biodiversity Responsibility," Ujang declared.
Syamsuardi, Head of PJHS, explained that the GPS Collar is one of the tools used to mitigate elephant-human conflicts. "Once the elephant is installed with a GPS collar, we can find out the movement of the elephant as an early warning system. By having this information, we can anticipate if the elephant moves in an area that has the potential for conflict," added Syamsuardi.
Syamsuardi went directly with the team to monitor the presence of the three elephant groups in the PT. BAP and PT. KEN as part of the Elephant Sugihan Habitat Pocket - Simpang Heran, which are the target groups for the GPS Collar installation. As of May 11, 2022, the group was observed to be in the Sumatran elephant corridor, Simpang Heran District, PT. BAP. This area has become their home range, without any problems with the community or the environment within.
The location is also relatively easy to access so that it is possible to immediately install a GPS Collar.
"In addition to the easy access, the elephant group also behaves non-aggressively (calmly) while interacting with humans, given that it is still within a safe distance with at least 40 meters. There are people who are even fishing at opposite side of the wild elephant group, which demonstrates such harmony of life between the wild elephants that can coexist if we want to share space” said Syamsuardi.
Head of Landscape Conservation APP Sinar Mas, Jasmine N.P. Doloksaribu said APP Sinar Mas always supports the Indonesian Ministry of Environment & Forestry (KLHK) and takes an active role in being part of the human-elephant co-existence program and the development of innovative conflict mitigation techniques between humans and Sumatran elephants that are adaptive outside conservation areas.
"The collaborative activity of the early warning system program through the installation of the GPS Collar expectedly helps us to understand the principle of sharing a living space between the Human and Elephant as well as its conservation action strategy. This is in accordance with the Circular Letter of the Director General of KSDAE 2021 regarding the direction of implementing priority activities for the management of Sumatran elephants, which is in line with APP Sinar Mas’ Sustainable Roadmap Vision (SRV) 2030 and Forest Conservation Policy," added Jasmine.
The GPS Collar installation team consists of people who are experienced in handling wild elephants from the South Sumatra BKSDA and are supported by veterinarians, Indonesian Mahout Communication Forum, APP Sinar Mas, PT. BAP, PT. KEN, PJHS Team with the assistance from FKGI.