Community-based initiative to resolve the human-elephant conflict in East Kalimantan needs more support
The human-elephant conflicts in Kalimantan arose from conversion of forest to oil palm plantation areas and wood industry (HPH / HTI) because the whole elephants’ habitats are outside conservation areas. The data from WWF-Indonesia, Borneo elephant populations are not very huge, between 20-80 elephants.
However, due to the narrowing of the elephants’ habitat, there were elephant conflicts since 2005 until today. From the records of WWF-Indonesia, since 2005 to 2010 approximately 16,000 company-owned palm trees are damaged by the Elephant attacked and, recorded 11 villages in the Tulin Onsoi District are prone area to elephant attacks.
To reduce the risk of human-elephant conflict, WWF-Indonesia in collaboration with the Nature Conservation Agency of East Kalimantan and the Government of Nunukan Regency facilitated the establishment of Borneo Elephant Conflict Task Force in the last February 2012.
Task Force members are from the local communities in charge of the prevention and management of conflict. Through the Nunukan Governments Regent Decree (SK) 33 people trained to be a member of the Task Force elephant conflict prevention. Task Force’s member takes the role of the various parties including the Regional Government of Nunukan, Nature Conservation Agency of East Kalimantan and NGOs, as well as the support from other stakeholders such as the private sector, the plantation (oil palm) and forestry (HPH and HTI).
"At this time, the training members of the Task Force are equipped with knowledge about the use of radio equipment HT (Handy Talky), the use of GPS (Global Position System), as well as how to assemble and use a carbide cannon to repel elephants. In addition, they are also trained in the knowledge to make a report of the conflict elephants handling results" said Agus Suyitno, Elephant-Human Conflict Mitigation Officer, WWF of East Kalimantan.
He added, "This year, members of the Task Force have been given of 4 Handy Talky, 2 GPS, 9 flashlight, and 32 cannons carbide. They are expected to keep and maintain the equipment that has been given as well as more active in coordinating and handling actions elephant conflict that occurred in the area of their residence."
Cornelius Kanain, Chairman of the Task Force of Elephant conflict at Tulin Onsoi District stated that, "Currently the Task Force members are increasingly active. In addition to assistance from WWF-Indonesia, Nunukan Government through the Environment Agency (BLH) has provided financial support to Task Force operations to handle the elephant conflict throughout 2012.
This year we hope the assistance and support continues, even further enhanced. This time, we are in dire need of assistance and participation of the private sector operating in the district administration of Tulin Onsoi, such as plantation (oil palm) and Forestry (HPH and HTI), so that the work we do is effective.
In addition, we are constrained in terms of land and river transportation equipment, and we really need a gathering place (secretariat) for members of the Task Force to facilitate coordination in actions of elephant conflict handling. It is also necessary we need monitoring posts to monitor elephant conflicts that occur in the field. In April 2012 we have managed to deter an elephant in the conflict in nearly 10 villages. For nearly eight months, the elephant did not appear and did not return to their villages, we were delighted. However, we are watchful because the elephant could come anytime."
Joko Sarjito, Coordinator of Responsible Forest Management (GFTN), WWF-Indonesia, said that currently there is one holder of IUPHHK-HA (PT Adimitra Lestari) which is operating in the area of Borneo Elephant, has committed to conservation action against the Borneo Elephants.
“This is evidenced that by doing surveys of Borneo elephant populations and habitat in and around the concession that the results will be used as the basis for making the management plan of Borneo elephant conservation as an integral part of company management” Joko said.
Joko added that IUPHHK-HA staffs through training have improved capacity in terms of human-elephant conflict management, in collaboration with WWF-Indonesia and Nature Conservation Agency of East Kalimantan. Going forward, one of the Borneo Elephant conservations agenda in and around the concession is an assessment of the forest areas of high conservation value to determine and delineate areas which must be protected and not to be exploited. It will also be used in a management plan document that is integrated with the Borneo Elephant conservation and management activities by IUPHHK holders.
The challenge is to keep the rest of the main habitat of Borneo Elephant at Agison River, Sibuda River, Tampilon River, and Apan River which are bordering with Sabah, Malaysia.
"The transfer of forests functions for the importance of development in the rest of the main elephant habitat will have an impact on the growing conflict between elephants and humans. Therefore, the required active involvement and commitment of the parties involved, in this case the government (central, provincial and regency), community colleges, private sector, and NGOs in handling real action on human and elephant conflict that is happening now and in the future. In addition, the unification of thought, attitude and action in saving the Borneo Elephant habitat which remains today is also important, so that the Borneo Elephants always get their living space naturally without any interference from any quarter," said Wiwin Effendy, Coordinator of WWF-Indonesia East Kalimantan