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Sumatran elephant. Credit: Jeremy Holden/FFI

Emergency appeal launched to combat rise in elephant poaching

Posted on: 26.06.14 (Last edited) 2 July 2014

EMERGENCY APPEAL UPDATE: (added 2 July)

We are delighted to announce that a supporter of the RRF has agreed that any donations made to the Sumatran elephant emergency appeal will be matched dollar for dollar, up to the value of $50,000. So donate now to double the impact of your contribution. Please CLICK HERE to donate now.

An emergency appeal has been launched by the Rapid Response Facility (RRF) for local conservation group HAkA, in response to a significant increase in poaching of Sumatran elephants in Aceh, Indonesia.

The tropical forests of the Leuser Ecosystem in northern Sumatra, Indonesia, part of a designated World Heritage Site in Danger, currently support approximately 500 Sumatran elephants.

But conservationists fear that an increase in poaching could drive this number down even further.

This Critically Endangered species is already suffering badly from the loss, damage and fragmentation of its forest home with almost 70% of suitable habitat destroyed in the last 25 years alone.

Almost 70% of elephant-suitable habitat has been destroyed in the last 25 years. Credit: HAkA

Almost 70% of elephant-suitable habitat has been destroyed in the last 25 years. Credit: HAkA

But habitat loss is not the only threat to these animals – poaching too is on the rise.

In the first five months of this year, local conservation group HAkA has found and destroyed 139 snares – already more than in the whole of 2013.

Field data shows that in the dry season poaching and snare-setting increases dramatically.

This means that poaching looks set to get worse very soon. The critical period for deploying more ranger protection patrols begins on 30 June.

Elephant traps like this are contributing to the dramatic decline of Sumatran elephants. Credit: HAkA

Elephant traps like this are contributing to the dramatic decline of Sumatran elephants. Credit: HAkA

The fragmentation of elephant habitat means that many of the remaining forest blocks are too small to sustain elephant populations, which is increasing conflict between humans and elephants as these animals come into contact with human settlements and farmland.

In extreme cases, elephants may be killed in retaliation for crop raiding, property damage or injury.

Limited forest cover also means that elephants can easily be trapped in small areas, making them easier targets for poachers.

The hideous and very graphic reality, an elephant, denuded of its tusks, has been left to rot. Credit: HAkA

The hideous and very graphic reality, an elephant carcass, denuded of its tusks, has been left to rot. Credit: HAkA

The Rapid Response Facility (RRF) is therefore launching an emergency appeal to support patrol teams from local conservation group HAkA.

The appeal will allow the HAkA teams (made up of local community members and trained conservation professionals) to carry out essential patrols in the Leuser ecosystem throughout July, to remove snares from this key Sumatran elephant corridor during the most intense hunting period.

By donating today, you can help save the giants of Sumatra. We thank you for your support.

Written by
Robin Loveridge

Rob joined FFI's Conservation Science team in 2012 after completing an MRes in Ecology Evolution and Conservation at Imperial College London. He also holds a BSc (Hons) in Biology and has spent three years working for research institutes and conservation NGOs in tropical Africa, Asia and the Americas. Within the Conservation Science team, Rob provides cross-organisational support to FFI’s regional teams, contributes to the Global Trees Campaign and coordinates the Flagship Species Fund and Rapid Response Facility.

Other posts by Robin Loveridge
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