Posted on 01 March 2019
The involvement of TNI members in elephant surveys was certainly a form of concern for the parties in the efforts to preserve elephants and their habitat.
By: Agus Suyitno
Kayan Landscape, WWF Indonesia
At the end of January 2019 members of the Indonesian National Army
(TNI) in the border area of North Kalimantan, in the Heart of Borneo
area, had assisted the Borneo Elephant Survey conducted by WWF-Indonesia
for one week. The army members came from the Sebuku Regional Military Command (Koramil), Nunukan District, North Kalimantan. Also involved in this survey were members of the Tulin Onsoi District Government, Gabungan Pecinta Alam Borneo
(Gappeta), the Green Cross Association (PLH), the Elephant Conflict Task Force and the local community.
The involvement of the army in the elephant survey was the result of good coordination, initiated by WWF-Indonesia. The Indonesian National Army were really welcomed and ready to collaborate by involving their members. The involvement of TNI members in elephant surveys was certainly a form of concern for the parties in the efforts to preserve elephants and their habitat.
The Borneo Elephant Survey was a continuation of previous surveys, which began in February 2018 where the previous survey also involved parties from the Nunukan Environment Agency (DLH), East Kalimantan Natural Resources Conservation Center (BKSDA), Forestry Faculty of Mulawarman University and Mapala 613 Poltek Nunukan. The survey was targeted to run around 2 years from 2018 - 2019 by using the occupancy method and the total survey area was around 100,000 Ha. So far, it has been running around 70%.
The Borneo Elephant Survey itself is one of the programs stated in the Borneo Elephant Conservation Strategy Action Plan 2018-2028, where it is necessary to update data on elephant populations and habitats in North Kalimantan until 2019. The previous data are based on the latest survey that held in 2012, the elephant population in Kalimantan ranges from 30-80 individuals, its main habitat is in Tulin Onsoi Sub District which is in border of Sabah, Malaysia. The population of elephants in Sabah itself is a much larger population, estimated at 1500-2000 individuals.
stage of the elephant survey was divided into 3 survey teams. Each team conducted a survey in the Upper Sibuda River, the middle part of the Sibuda River and the upper reaches of the Apan River, which is in the border area of Sabah, Malaysia. The location is really difficult to reach. The survey team had to cross the river with heavy rapids and high cliffs. In these altitude areas that reach more than 1000 m above sea level, there are valleys and rivers that are commonly used by elephants to move and forage. We also found the corridors that are strongly suspected of being elephant trajectories to Sabah, Malaysia and to Nunukan, North Kalimantan or vice versa.
Abdul Halik and Tri Sugeng from the Koramil were very happy to be able to help Borneo Elephant survey activities, besides being able to monitor elephant habitat, this activity can also monitor the security of forest areas in Tulin Onsoi Sub District in preventing illegal logging. Formerly illegal logging occurred in the 2000s, but there is no more now.
“We are ready to help the next elephant survey and do not hesitate to ask for our help”, said Tri Sugeng. He stated that TNI members have a very close relationship to the community and other parties, hoping that with this survey activity the understanding about Borneo Elephants would increase and then be able to provide education to the community for its preservation. Borneo Elephants are regional assets, fall into the category of rare species and are protected by law, so let us together to preserve them”, he added.
This one-week survey found several important findings including the discovery of signs of the presence of elephants such as traces, dirt and former friction on elephant trunks. In addition, it was found a source of salt (sopon) in the upper reaches of the Sibuda River, about 1 km on the Sabah border in the elephant corridor. Salt is very popular with various types of mammals, especially elephants, a source of salt is needed for mineral needs needed by elephants in breeding.
From the elephant survey until February 2019, the distribution of elephant habitat in the Kalimantan region began. The areas that have not been surveyed still have the potential to have elephants and this will be done in the next survey.
For the total population, we have to wait for survey data to be completed since the survey data will be very useful for the basis of decision making for the implementation of elephant conservation in Kalimantan, both from the aspect of spatial planning, population management, habitat management and government policy support.