Wild Elephants Trample Aceh’s Remote Villages

Banda Aceh. Hundreds of villagers in the district of East Aceh fled to safety after what has been called one of the worst recent outbreaks of elephant attacks in the area, an activist said on Sunday.

Bahtiar, a field officer from Leuser International Foundation of East Aceh, said that a pack of some 30 wild elephants had been rampaging through two remote villages in Serbajadi subdistrict almost daily over the past several days. 

“This morning I received a report from some residents of those villages that on Saturday some wild elephants came into the villages, destroyed their houses and ate their crops,” he told the Jakarta Globe. 

“Now the local residents are scared and cautious because the elephants chased a villager who tried to scare them off with some traditional methods that included a torch, a bamboo cannon and a carbide cannon,” he added. 

The neighboring villages that have become the target of the elephants are Kuala Panggoh and Ketibung Busara. Both are government-assigned transmigration areas that have been occupied since the early 1990s. 

Bahtiar said that since the elephant attacks began, 48 houses in Kuala Panggoh village had been severely damaged while 52 more had sustained minor damage. Nearly 30 houses have been destroyed in Ketibung Busara. 

“The villagers who have lost their homes because of the elephant attacks are now staying in mosques,” he said, adding that some forest rangers and volunteers from nongovernmental organizations were assisting displaced families. 

The Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), East Aceh’s forestry agency and some environmental activists plan to visit the area on Tuesday. 

The team plans to conduct a survey of the location, using the results to build a conservation response unit. Four tame elephants will be included in the unit to chase the wild elephants back to the jungle. 

Bahtiar said most conflicts between wild elephants and humans in Aceh stemmed from the clearing of land for plantations. He said that when trees were cut, the elephants lost their natural habitat and food supply. 

“Moreover, the newly cleared areas are often planted with rice and palms, which are elephants’ favorite foods,” he said. 

Abu Bakar Chekmat, head of the Aceh BKSDA, said that the solution to elephant attacks was to simply stop illegal logging, especially in the elephants’ jungle habitat and along their migration paths.
“Actually, the regional government has made a mistake in the first place by creating a transmigration area in a place surrounded by jungles and mountains,” he said. “One of the solutions to stop these incidents would be to relocate the villagers to another place and restore the area into a conservation jungle.”[]
Wild Elephants Trample Aceh’s Remote Villages Wild Elephants Trample Aceh’s Remote Villages Reviewed by Nurdin Hasan on April 05, 2010 Rating: 5

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