Balai Raja conservation area’s Sumatran elephant population dwindles

There are seven elephants remaining in Balai Raja. They live in two to three groups.

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA) – The population of Sumatran elephants at the Balai Raja Wildlife Conservation area dropped further to only seven after a female elephant Dita died on Monday (Oct 7).

“Seven elephants are remaining in Balai Raja. They live in two to three groups,” head of the Riau Natural Conservation Agency (BKSDA) Suharyono remarked here on Tuesday.

The area, where the 25-year-old Dita was found dead within the conservation area, has been changed to make way for housing, government offices, and palm oil plantation.

Habitat loss has forced the elephants to enter the palm oil plantation, and the local residents view the species as a pest.

The conservation area, earlier covering an area of 18 thousand hectares, has narrowed to only 150 hectares.

The wild elephants were frequently seen in palm oil plantations or in the Talang Forest, a preservation area of PT Chevron Pacific Indonesia.

Dita’s left leg was severely injured after being trapped in a poacher’s snare in 2014.

In spite of the authority’s all-out efforts to heal Dita, the elephant succumbed to her wound and was found dead in a puddle on Monday.

Suharyono attributes Dita’s death to her illness.

“Based on our preliminary observation, her death was due to an ailment. It is a female elephant, no ivory, so probably her death was not due to poaching,” he elaborated.

The Riau BBKSDA team arrived at the location where the elephant was found dead in Pinggir Sub-district, Bengkalis District, to conduct an autopsy.

Dita’s corpse was only found five days after her death.

“A more complete identification would be made available after the medical team completes its necropsy,” Suharyono stated.

Source: ANTARA News