3 Day Journey to Treat Two Injured Elephants

FKL’s Elephant Protection Team and CRU’s Patrol Team was conducting its regular patrols  in the Leuser Ecosystem, Aceh Timur district. Whilst on their patrol on the 27th July, the team came across a group of wild elephants roaming. The team went on to follow and monitor the elephants. After a while, they observed that 2 elephants have started moving slowly and separated from the main group. Unsure what was happening, the team continued to monitor and moved slightly closer to examine what happened to the elephants. That is when they recognised that the elephants’ legs are infected as a result of a snare is still intact to the legs. Immediately, they contacted other staff members at FKL Regional 1 office in Langsa to form a response team.

The next morning, the team consisting of FKL, Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA Aceh), KPH 3 – Langsa headed out to treat the elephant. The team arrived at the location at 1PM, and formed a strategy to search for the two elephants who continued walking overnight. After two hours of searching, the team found one of the wounded elephants. The vets immediately tranquilised the elephant and conducted treatment to the elephant. The response team began by cleaning and disinfecting the wound, then slowly removing the snare from the elephant’s leg, and finally treating the wound. It was a successful treatment! The vets feel that the elephant should be able to be back in the wild, but will need to be monitored temporarily once it has woken up to be completely sure.  At around 6PM, the tranquiliser’s effect wore off, and the elephant woke up. The team monitored the movements of the elephant for a while, the elephant still walked slowly but surely. As the sun sets, the team patted themselves on the back for a job well done. They made the decision to continue searching for the other elephant tomorrow morning.    

The team woke up in the morning, passing around cups of coffee as they sip and discuss the plan to search for the other wounded elephant. The decision came, and they were split into three groups to search different areas. The teams embarked and walked through looking for signs of an elephant in the area. At 11:00, one of the teams found the presence of the elephant. The elephant, wounded and dehydrated, was followed by its baby elephant of about 7 months. After finding the elephant, the other two teams were contacted to conduct the treatment. A similar procedure to the treatment yesterday, the elephant was tranquilised before the treatment started. 4 hours later after the treatment was completed, the elephant woke up, and walked slowly as the team continues to monitor potential post-treatment effects. After monitoring and the elephants is able to walk further, the team decided to move

out of the area. The team headed out to where they camped the prior night to evaluate on their efforts over the last two days. The incident of two elephants caught in snares in around the same area is an example of high threats of poaching. The BKSDA, KPH-3 Langsa, CRU Team and FKL’s EPT also took the initiative to prioritise patrolling the area for the next couple of weeks to ensure safety of area from more snares as well as the safety of the elephants that were just treated. CRU team and FKL’s EPT will also socialise to communities to not use snares and report to related authorities should they come across them.

After 2 weeks later the elephants were monitored with improved foot condition. We thank you for the help of PT. Aloer Timur (Mopoli Group) who participated in saving these two individual elephants. The support of stakeholders and donors is very important for elephant conservation in the Leuser Ecosystem.

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• FKL formed 2 (two) units of the Elephant Protection Team (EPT) and supported the operation of the Serbajadi CRU to resolve animal conflicts in East Aceh and prevent poaching of elephants. This small amount has contributed greatly to saving elephants in North East Leuser. In 2019, only 1 elephant was killed in this area, far less than the previous 6-10 individuals / year.

FKL’s Elephant Protection Team (EPT) showing the snare that caught the elephant after the elephant has been treated

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