03/27/2015, 00.00
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Indonesia tops human-elephant run-ins

As farming encroaches on wild areas, elephants are more likely to encounter humans. The authorities are concerned about the economic impact of elephants trespassing onto farmland, and humans’ violent reaction to it.

Jakarta (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Indonesia has the highest rate of run-ins between elephants and humans, this according to World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Indonesia conservation expert Sunarto.

In his view, such “conflict threats in Indonesia are the highest in Asia. This may be down to intolerant human behavior or drastic decreases of elephants’ natural habitats”.

Based on WWF Indonesia data, India has around 8,000 individual wild elephants, followed by Malaysia (3,885), Myanmar (2,619), Indonesia (2,000), Thailand (1,000), Laos (700), Cambodia (425), China (285) and Vietnam with only around 97 individual animals.

Although Indonesia does not have the most elephants, it has the most human-animal incidents: 1.2 per cent, followed by Thailand at 0.4 per cent.

Unlike the aforementioned nations, elephants represent a greater challenge to Indonesia because of the country’s insular nature, which offers less room for wild animals.

Growing human activities and land use have reduced the space available to wild species, like the elephants, whose impact on farms can be devastating. A single individual can in fact consume up to 450 kilos a day, cleaning out a single wheat field in a day.

WWF Indonesia’s Tesso Nilo flying squad coordinator Ruswanto said excessive land conversion has aggravated human-wildlife conflicts in the Tesso Nilo National Park.

What is more, human encroachment on the elephants’ environment is breaking up established herds into smaller units. This increases the risk for clashes.

In such cases, people tend to shoot the pachyderms on sight because of possible damages to human life and property.

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