08/13/2016, 12.04
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Save Sumatra elephant from extinction

On the occasion of the World Elephant Day, celebrated yesterday, the authorities publish the last census of mammals living on the island. Decline of 39% from 2007. Ministry spokesman: "In addition to poaching, elephants are suffering from bad sanitary conditions. We have much work to do".

Jakarta (AsiaNews / Agencies) - On the occasion of the World Elephant Day celebrated yesterday, the Indonesian authorities have focused attention on the conditions of the Sumatran elephant, a very rare and highly endangered subspecies. The Director-General for the Environment Ministry revealed that, according to the last census, the island has only 1,724 specimens remaining. This means a decrease of 39% from 2007.

Listya Kusumawardhani, Ministry spokesman, said: " From 2012 to 2016, 146 wild Sumatran elephants have been poisoned or killed by poachers for their tusks to satisfy demand in the illegal ivory trade in Riau and Aceh [cities in the center and north of the island ed] ".

Listya explains that there are other threats in addition to the ivory market and the destruction of their natural habitat. For example, the Sumatran elephants locked in retention centers have become highly vulnerable to infectious diseases such as herpes, due to poor hygienic conditions in which they are enclosed. "There are eight breeding centers for elephants in Indonesia - he says - but their health facilities are very backward. We have much work to do".

Nevertheless, the official is convinced that some decrees approved by the Government will be able to create new living spaces for Sumatran elephants, "Jakarta stated that 27 million hectares of forests are protected areas. The mammals of Sumatra and other endangered species can live safely there ".

As endangered species go, the number of Sumatran elephants is not very worrying. WWF Indonesia, however, appeals for vigilance and to make every effort to ensure that the specimens are not further depleted. Nyoman Iswarayoga, director of communications of the organization, said: "Although the official number is still in the thousands, we must continue to find innovative ways to save the Sumatran elephant from extinction".

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