Baby elephant born to WWF's 'Flying Squad'



Posted on 08 March 2011  | 
Lisa, a female elephant on WWF’s Flying Squad, gave birth to healthy male calf on January 31, a full month earlier than anticipated by the handlers at the Flying Squad camp in Sumatra’s Tesso Nilo National Park.

The calf was named Imbo by Ir. Darori, MM, Director General of Forest Protection and Nature Conservation of the Ministry of Forestry. Imbo is derived from the word ‘rimbo’, which means forest in the traditional Malayan language spoken by the people of central Sumatra. Imbo is the third calf born in the Flying Squad in the past four years. Syamsuardi, WWF-Indonesia’s Flying Squad Officer, said that it was an indication that the elephants were receiving good treatment and had the perfect habitat to breed.

Since 2004, the Flying Squad has been successful in mitigating human-elephant conflict by using trained elephants to herd wild elephants away from human habitation and out of plantations back into the national park. The Flying Squad, a joint initiative between Indonesia’s Ministry of Forestry and WWF, consists of two male and two female elephants with eight mahouts.

“Overall, the Flying Squad’s elephants are in healthy condition and I’m very pleased that the two other calves are being trained to join the Flying Squad team and support ecotourism activities in Tesso Nilo National Park,” said Drh. Hayani MSc, Head of Tesso Nilo National Park.

Tesso Nilo is a prime habitat for endangered species like Sumatran tigers and Sumatran elephants. There are an estimated 200 wild elephants in the national park, which is becoming Indonesia Elephant Conservation Centre. Unfortunately, large-scale deforestation and habitat degradation, especially for oil palm plantations, has led to increased human-wildlife conflict.

“The uniqueness of the Flying Squad could certainly boost ecotourism opportunities in Tesso Nilo National Park,” said Ir. Sumarto, Director of Environmental Services Utilization of Conservation Area and Protected Forest, Ministry of Forestry. “There is a lot of potential here that could benefit both wildlife and people.”

Sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus sumatranus) are the smallest subspecies of Asian elephants and are classified as endangered. They are threatened by illegal logging, poaching and conflict with humans. The current population of Sumatran elephants is between 2,400 and 3,350.
 
The baby elephant was named Imbo, which is derived from the word ‘rimbo’ meaning 'forest' in the traditional Malayan language spoken by the people of central Sumatra.
© WWF Indonesia / Syamsuardi Enlarge
The baby elephant's mother Lisa is used to safely keep wild elephants out of crop fields.
© WWF Indonesia / Yumiko Uryu Enlarge

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