The Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) of South Sumatra Province works together with multi stakeholders to oversee the development of corridors for Sumatran elephant in the Padang Sugihan area, Ogan Komering Ilir (OKI) Regency.
Head of the South Sumatra BKSDA, Ujang Wisnu Barata, said that this effort had been rolled out by implementing studies at the site involving APP Sinar Mas, concession companies, the Association of Forest and Animal Networks (PJHS), and Pakuan University. "This study is crucial to encourage an action plan for the development of the Sumatran elephant corridor in Padang Sugihan," said Ujang when conducting a Focus Group Discussion (FGD) for the study. In addition, according to BKSDA, this study is also useful to encourage the issuance of a decree (SK) for the management of the Sumatran Elephant Corridor in the area, so that the conservation programs will become more concrete.
Chairman of the Indonesian Elephant Conservation Forum, Donny Gunaryadi also welcomed the study. According to him, the results of this study can be a reference for many parties to obtain the best practices in protecting the elephant ecosystem. “At the site level, the elephant knows no concession boundaries, so we have to find the best way so that elephants can still live in production areas, especially in Padang Sugihan," he said.
Chairman of the Association of Forest and Animal Networks (PJHS) Syamsuardi said that PJHS was directly involved in data collection and developing the studies. In fact, his party has provided input to PT KEN and a number of supplier partners from PT OKI Pulp & Paper Mills, which has a production area in Padang Sugihan, in order to maintain the natural movement of elephants in the company's acacia plantation concessions. "Especially when elephants pass from the north to the south and vice versa," he said.
This data collection was carried out through a rapid survey by walking and using camera traps and drones, during 22-26 November 2021. PJHS, producing a study of the Elephant Corridor Study on the Road to Tanjung Tapa Seaport in Ogan Komering Ilir Regency, monitors the elephant movements and analyzes the habitat suitability.
According to him, this acacia HTI concession area is an important habitat for elephants in South Sumatra that needs to be saved. It is expected that the company will help restore the elephant corridor through several interventions such as enrichment of feed, creating elephant movement paths that are not planted with acacia and allowed to have natural plants, build a monitoring tower, and build a canal/culvert bridge designed in such a way that elephants are comfortable when crossing. In addition, it can be considered to create a gate to regulate vehicles that will pass when this path is used by elephants to cross the lane.
PJHS Expert Team Dr. Wishnu Sukmatoro added that in the study, his party identified around 50-80 elephants in the Sugihan Landscape which were divided into six groups based on information from various parties, especially the observations of the concession staff.
Based on the analysis of kernel density (population density) and maxent, it was identified that the concentration of elephant movement was in the canal embankment of the HTI concession and PT. KEN. Locations that contain elephant density are generally in the form of bushland cover, open land overgrown with a lot of grass including sedge grass and swamp grass and water bodies. Other land cover is young acacia, old acacia and settlements or factories.
“The biggest contribution that supports the accessibility of Sumatran elephant movement is roads, especially canal embankments that function as walkways or vehicle roads, with the percentage reaching 62.4 percent," he said. Based on this study, the expert team grouped them into three corridors so that interventions were expected to be carried out in these locations.
Head of Landscape Conservation APP Sinar Mas, Jasmine N.P. Doloksaribu said that the study of the elephant corridor on the road to the Tanjung Tapa seaport is expected to be aligned with the corridor construction and ecosystem development activities in the Sugihan - Simpang Heran elephant habitat, which have been carried out by the South Sumatra BKSDA together with stakeholders in October - November 2020. This collaboration is also in line with the 2021 KSDAE Director General's Circular regarding the direction of implementing priority activities for Sumatran elephant management, which is in line with APP’s Sustainable Roadmap Vision 2030 and Forest Conservation Policy.
APP continues to support the Ministry of Environment & Forestry (KLHK) and plays an active role in being part of the human-elephant co-existence program throughout as well as the development of innovative mitigation techniques between humans and Sumatran elephants that are adaptive outside conservation areas.
“This is implemented especially within the area of APP Sinar Mas' wood supplier, PT Kerawang Ekawana Nugraha (KEN), and the area around PT. OKI Pulp & Paper Mills which territory is included in the roaming area/elephant corridor, as a form of our Corporate Biodiversity Responsibility," said Jasmine.