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News Article | March 16, 2017
Site: www.theguardian.com

Pushing on 400 kilograms, baby Paichit knows when it’s feeding time. He lets out an appreciative bellow, a rumbling baby elephant purr from his patch in the Sumatran jungle, as soon as his mahout (keeper) Julkarnaini approaches bucket in hand. “He’s getting much healthier,” observes Julkarnaini, now using the bucket to give Paichit a bit of a bath. “At first he was very thin, but after a month here he’s putting on weight.” Earlier this year baby Paichit, one of the critically endangered Sumatran elephants, was found stranded and starving in a palm oil plantation in Aceh, on the northern tip of Indonesia’s Sumatra island. Paichit’s father had been shot and the rest of the herd had fled in fright. When he was discovered, Paichit was so malnourished the shape of his ribs was visible from beneath his sagging skin. On arrival at a centre run by the Aceh Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), an intravenous drip was immediately fixed to his ear. “Paichit was really in a bad condition when he first arrived, he was very dehydrated, he was suffering from shock, stress and he was very thin, malnourished, and his skin was in a bad way,” recalls BKSDA veterinarian, Dr Rosa Wahyuni. And now? Paichit spends his days in his patch in the jungle, about about half a kilometre from the centre, with his devoted mahout Julkarnaini wandering up to see him half a dozen times a day to feed and bathe him and provide his favourite foods, crispy white turnips and buckets of sugar water. An assessment of his progress a month on (no elephant scales, so a long measuring tape is slipped around his growing belly and back instead) makes everyone happy. “We estimate that he has put about 80 kilograms on since he arrived,” says Wahyuni, whose veterinary practice also includes tigers, monitor lizards and crocodiles. “He has started to improve. He has a good appetite, his eating and drinking habits are good, his body weight has increased and the condition of his skin is better too. The priority health signs are all positive so far.” Paichit is one of a tiny subspecies of the Asian elephant, the Sumatran elephant, which has declined by a devastating 80% in 25 years. At best, there are only 2,800 left. In 2012 the classification of Sumatran elephants was changed from “endangered” to “critically endangered” and the WWF estimates the species are not likely to survive in the long term. Poaching is an issue, but deforestation and habitat loss is the number one problem. Over the past two decades Sumatra’s rich rainforests have been decimated to make way for timber and palm oil plantations, and the natural habitat of native species such as Sumatran elephants, tigers and rhinos has been gutted. From 1985, Sumatra’s rainforest has more than halved in size – shrinking from 25m to 10.8m hectares (61.8m to 26.7m acres) in 2014. Unsurprisingly, having lost nearly 70% of their habitat in one generation, the island’s elephants end up tramping through villages and plantations, eating the spiky oil palm fruit, unwittingly guzzling up the local community income and causing chaos and destruction. In the world’s largest palm oil producing nation about 80-90% of the human-elephant conflicts in Sumatra occur in concession areas for timber and oil palm. “When the elephants come they destroy everything, including people’s houses, so people get angry, right. So many people see them as pests,” explains Wishnu Sukmantoro, an elephant specialist at WWF Indonesia. “There was one case for example, in 2013, when one person died. So then a week later, someone from that community found the elephant and killed it. It was a revenge killing.” It appears this is what happened to Paichit’s father, who was shot dead in the oil palm plantation in east Aceh where baby Paichit was found. But according to his carers Paichit’s own chances of survival are looking strong. “If it was a drinking competition, he’d be a legend,” jokes New Zealander Murray Munro, or “Muzza”, as he watches Paichit down his bucket of sugar water. “He’s good with his trunk. He can rip grass out with it, so he has had enough time to learn because when they are tiny they’ve got no idea what to do with the trunk,” he says, “It’s all over the place.” “He’s feisty, he’s got good energy, he’s a pretty relaxed young guy,” he goes on. “He doesn’t make a lot of noise, only when he’s hungry, he will certainly let you know but he’s got good strength. He is putting on weight which is fantastic and has a really good demeanour. He is quite independent, which is a good sign because the males will become solitary when they turn a certain age, they will go out of the herd they have been brought up in and they’ll have to make their own way in life.” Munro, who works in an elephant conservation centre in Nepal, dropped everything when he heard about Paichit’s rescue and travelled to offer his support and experience, after successfully helping another orphaned baby Sumatran elephant by the name of Bona five years earlier. In that case he’d set up a crowdfunding campaign to raise the $2,000 (£1,640) each month needed to feed her, including money to pay for kilograms of “white powder”, bags of baby elephant supplements and vitamins (which raised eyebrows as they traveled through Indonesian customs). Bona is six years old and thriving now, says Munro, who plans to visit her in Bengkulu, south Sumatra, in the coming weeks. First though, he is busy working on a similar campaign to ensure Paichit fares just as well. In comparatively better condition than Bona, Munro estimates it will cost about $700 (£573) to feed the orphaned baby elephant each month. Meanwhile the Indonesians are also focusing on ways of dealing with the broader problem. In Aceh an elephant conservation response unit (CRU) has been running for several years, where captive elephants are trained to memorise a series of commands and then employed in the field to chase wild elephants deep into the forest, and out of harm’s way. (Baby Paichit is named after one of the trainers from Thailand, who came over to share his expertise when the programme was first established.) To minimise elephant-human conflict the teams of elephant “rangers” and their mahouts respond to reports and sightings by the local community, and well as tracking the movements of wild elephant herds through the use of GPS collars. Across Aceh there are seven CRUs and 34 elephant rangers. “So far it has been effective,” says Wahyuni, as one of the centre’s fully grown elephants traipses past the wooden coffee stall where she is seated, “But the number of problems has increased too, so we are fighting to protect them.” Could Paichit become an elephant ranger in the long-term? Wahyuni is not sure, but believes at the moment that releasing him back into the wild would be too perilous. For now, she and Julkarnaini are concentrating on his health and his state of mind. In the last five years two other baby elephants rescued and treated at the centre failed to make it but if he gets through this initial period, they will have to think hard about providing opportunities for him to socialise. Deeply social creatures, the emotional wellbeing of elephants is just as important as it is to humans, says Wahyuni. Once his health is on track, the centre plans to introduce Paichit to an “auntie” elephant. For now, his mahout plays a critical role. “As an orphan the mahout becomes like a father to the elephant,” says Wahyuni. “If it comes to health problems, I can handle that, but for trauma and stress, the best person to focus on that is the mahouts because they are with them all the time. If the elephant is emotionally well, everything else will be good too. Just like a human.” Julkarnaini smiles in agreement. He has been at the centre for 20 years, and knows as much about elephants as anyone there. Becoming a mahout was a “decision of the heart”, and as for being a father to Paichit, well the baby elephant is more like his wife, he jokes. “There is no particular way to connect,” he says. “It is kind of like fate. Do you believe you can take care of the animal? It will be like that.” Paichit has grown healthier and calmer under his watchful care. “The way I see it, this baby elephant has to live,” he tells me as we head out to feed Paichit in the afternoon sun, “We’ve had bad experiences with baby elephants before. So in my mind, this one has to make it.” This piece is part of a year-long series on Elephant Conservation – email us at elephant.conservation@theguardian.com


Langston J.D.,James Cook University | Riggs R.A.,James Cook University | Sururi Y.,James Cook University | Sunderland T.,Center for International Forestry Research | Munawir M.,WWF Indonesia
Land | Year: 2017

Smallholder farmers and indigenous communities must cope with the opportunities and threats presented by rapidly spreading estate crops in the frontier of the agricultural market economy. Smallholder communities are subject to considerable speculation by outsiders, yet large-scale agriculture presents tradeoffs that they must navigate. We initiated a study in Sintang, West Kalimantan in 2012 and have returned annually for the last four years, building the baselines for a longer-term landscape approach to reconciling conservation and development tradeoffs in situ. Here, the stakeholders are heterogeneous, yet the land cover of the landscape is on a trajectory towards homogenous mono-cropping systems, primarily either palm oil or rubber. In one village on the frontier of the agricultural market economy, natural forests remain managed by the indigenous and local community but economics further intrude on forest use decisions. Conservation values are declining and the future of the forest is uncertain. As such, the community is ultimately attracted to more economically attractive uses of the land for local development oil palm or rubber mono-crop farms. We identify poverty as a threat to community-managed conservation success in the face of economic pressures to convert forest to intensive agriculture. We provide evidence that lucrative alternatives will challenge community-managed forests when prosperity seems achievable. To alleviate this trend, we identify formalized traditional management and landscape governance solutions to nurture a more sustainable landscape transition. © 2017 by the authors.


Setiawan R.Y.,Diponegoro University | Habibi A.,WWF Indonesia
IEEE Journal of Selected Topics in Applied Earth Observations and Remote Sensing | Year: 2011

Seasonal variation of chlorophyll-A (Chl-a) concentration in the Gulf of Tomini (GT) is investigated using SeaWiFS-derived sea surface Chl-a, QuikSCAT-derived ocean surface wind vector and Pathfinder sea surface temperature (SST) measurements. Results show that Chl-A concentration in the GT attained maximum in August (0.59 mg/m 3) and is primarily controlled by monsoon winds. During summer, strong winds pass through the Maluku archipelago and blast out toward the Maluku Sea, and impinge the coastal mountain on the southeastern GT (GT tip). As a result, a strong wind jet observed at the open-ocean of GT and is suspected to be the main driving force for the Chl-A bloom in the region. The center of the bloom is located consistently with the wind stress maximum (0.28 Nm -2) and low SST (27.3°C). The present study describes the seasonal and spatial distributions of the Chl-A bloom in GT and its associated oceanographic features. © 2008 IEEE.


Laumonier Y.,CIRAD - Agricultural Research for Development | Laumonier Y.,Center International for Forestry Research | Uryu Y.,WWF U.S. | Stuwe M.,WWF U.S. | And 3 more authors.
Biodiversity and Conservation | Year: 2010

Biogeographical studies are a necessary step in establishing conservation area networks. Determining the ecological factors influencing vegetation is also a basic principle for hierarchical ecological classifications and a necessary prerequisite for ecosystem-based land use planning. Eco-floristic sectors (EFS) have already been identified for the Indonesian island of Sumatra, combining both approaches, dividing it into 38 EFSs representing unique ecosystems in terms of tree flora and environment (Laumonier 1997). The impact of deforestation on individual EFSs has been highly varied and in some cases extreme. We assigned one of five 'extinction risk categories' to each EFS based on the percentage of forest lost between 1985 and 2007. Eighty-five percent of all forest loss (10.2 million ha) occurred in the eastern peneplain, western lowland regions and swamps. In 2007, only 29% of forests were protected by conservation areas, only nine of the 38 EFS had more than 50% of their remaining forest cover protected. 38% of remaining forest was "critically endangered", "endangered" or "vulnerable" EFSs (5 million ha) but only 1 million ha (20%) were protected. Sumatra's existing network of conservation areas does not adequately represent the island's ecosystems. Priorities for a new conservation area network can be formulated for integration into Sumatra's new land use plans at provincial and district level. Decision makers can now use EFSs to locate new conservation areas so they represent and maintain the whole range of the island's diversity. © Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2010.


Tapilatu R.F.,State University of Papua | Tapilatu R.F.,University of Alabama at Birmingham | Dutton P.H.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Tiwari M.,National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | And 4 more authors.
Ecosphere | Year: 2013

The leatherbacks nesting at Bird's Head Peninsula, Papua Barat, Indonesia, account for 75% of the total leatherback nesting in the western Pacific and represent the last sizeable nesting population in the entire Pacific. Sporadic nest counts at Jamursba Medi Beach at Bird's Head have indicated a declining trend from the 1980s through 2004, although a relatively high amount of nesting has recently been documented at Wermon Beach, located 30 km east of Jamursba Medi. We used expanded year-round nesting surveys from 2005 to 2011 at these two primary nesting beaches to obtain more robust estimates of the nesting population size and to evaluate long-term nesting trends. We found a 29% decline in nesting at Jamursba Medi and a 52% decline at Wermon from 2005 through 2011. We found that the estimated annual number of nests at Jamursba Medi has declined 78.3% over the past 27 years (5.5% annual rate of decline) from 14,522 in 1984 to 1,596 in 2011. Nesting at Wermon has been monitored since 2002 and has declined 2.8% (11.6% annual rate of decline) from 2,994 nests in 2002 to 1,096 in 2011. Collectively, our findings indicate a continual and significant long term nesting decline of 5.9% per year at these primary western Pacific beaches since 1984. Mark-recapture with PIT tags, initiated in 2003, resulted in the tagging of 1,371 individual nesting females as of March 2012. Observed clutch frequencies ranged from 3-10 per season with a mean of 5.5 ± 1.6 and, based on nest counts, provide an estimate of approximately 489 females nesting in 2011. The persistent and long term decline we report for the Bird's Head leatherback population follows other dramatic declines and extinctions of leatherback populations throughout the Pacific over the last 30 years. These findings highlight the urgent need for continued and enhanced conservation and management efforts to prevent the collapse of what might be the last remaining stronghold for leatherbacks in the Pacific. © 2013 Tapilatu et al.


Sunarto,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Kelly M.J.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | Klenzendorf S.,WWF | Vaughan M.R.,Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University | And 3 more authors.
ORYX | Year: 2013

Information on spatial and temporal variation in abundance is crucial for effective management of wildlife. Yet abundance estimates for the Critically Endangered Sumatran tiger Panthera tigris sumatrae are lacking from Riau, the province historically believed to hold the largest percentage of this subspecies. Recently, this area has had one of the highest global rates of deforestation. Using camera traps we investigated tiger abundance across peatland, flat lowland, and hilly lowland forest types in the province, and over time, in the newly established Tesso Nilo National Park, central Sumatra. We estimated densities using spatially explicit capture-recapture, calculated with DENSITY, and traditional capture-recapture models, calculated with CAPTURE. With spatially explicit capture-recapture the lowest tiger density (0.34 ± SE 0.24 per 100 km2) was estimated in the hilly lowland forest of Rimbang Baling and the highest (0.87 ± SE 0.33 per 100 km2) in the flat lowland forest of the Park. Repeated surveys in the Park documented densities of 0.63 ± SE 0.28 in 2005 to 0.87 ± SE 0.33 per 100 km2 in 2008. Compared to traditional capture-recapture the spatially explicit capture-recapture approach resulted in estimates 50% lower. Estimates of tiger density from this study were lower than most previous estimates in other parts of Sumatra. High levels of human activity in the area appear to limit tigers. The results of this study, which covered areas and habitat types not previously surveyed, are important for overall population estimates across the island, provide insight into the response of carnivores to habitat loss, and are relevant to the interventions needed to save the tiger. Copyright © Fauna & Flora International 2013.


Wulffraat S.,WWF Indonesia | Morrison J.,WWF U.S.
Environmental Conservation | Year: 2013

The ultimate measure of the success or failure of conservation initiatives in an area will be the ecological health of that area and the sustainability of institutions which support that ecological health. Heretofore, no comprehensive data has been presented about the current conservation state of the area known as the Heart of Borneo (HoB), a mostly intact subset of the island of Borneo, which is an international conservation priority. This paper identifies a set of indicators representative of the biodiversity status of the HoB; collecting and analysing data concerning these indicators and combining these data with supplemental conservation information should provide an accurate assessment of the overall conservation state of the HoB. Based on the indicators identified in this study, the general biodiversity status of the HoB is rated as good, or viable, although there are specific elements of concern. Using the threat indicators identified in this study, the overall threat level is medium. Major threats from industrial forest conversion and mining currently exist mainly on the edges of the HoB, but are likely to expand further inland without any intervention simply based on proximity. Though most habitats within (but not outside) the HoB are generally intact, the current protected area system is insufficiently representative of the natural ecosystems of the HoB area and its management effectiveness is as yet unknown. © Foundation for Environmental Conservation 2013.


Grant
Agency: European Commission | Branch: FP7 | Program: CP-FP | Phase: ENV.2010.1.1.6-1 | Award Amount: 4.29M | Year: 2011

At COP15 in Copenhagen one outcome was a commitment to develop a mechanism for reducing greenhouse gas emissions from deforestation and forest degradation and enhancing carbon stocks (REDD\). There is, however, only a limited research basis for such a mechanism particularly with regard to the need for understanding and monitoring the impact of REDD\ activities on climate effectiveness, cost efficiency, equity and co-benefits. I-REDD\ will approach these challenges from a truly interdisciplinary perspective. The overall objective will be to obtain an improved understanding of how the implementation of REDD\ mechanisms may 1) reduce emissions of GHG and maintain or enhance existing stocks of carbon in vegetation and soil of various land cover types; 2) impact livelihoods and welfare of local farming communities and differences between communities; 3) impact biodiversity conservation, and 4) provide a realistic framework for monitoring, reporting and verification of REDD\, including the importance of governance and accountability at multiple levels. To complement other research initiatives we propose to work in the uplands of Southeast Asia in the Heart of Borneo, Kalimantan, Indonesia, and in the northern parts of Lao PDR and Vietnam, and Yunnan in Southwest China. Rapid land use transitions from forest and shifting cultivation to other, more intensive land use systems and widespread forest degradation are occurring in these areas, making the potential for REDD\ particularly pronounced. Moreover, REDD\ may considerably impact on local economies, because of the high population densities in the region. The partners in I-REDD\ are leading research institutions in Europe and Southeast Asia, international research organizations, an NGO and an SME. The consortium has a strong emphasis on local dissemination and capacity development in order to ensure that project results influence REDD\ policy development at local, national and global level.


Whittle M.,University of Sheffield | Quegan S.,University of Sheffield | Uryu Y.,World Wildlife Fund | Stuewe M.,World Wildlife Fund | Yulianto K.,WWF Indonesia
Remote Sensing of Environment | Year: 2012

Indonesia has one of the highest rates of deforestation in the world, with a significant impact on the planetary carbon balance and loss of biodiversity. It also covers a vast and often inaccessible area frequently obscured by clouds, making accurate, timely monitoring of its forests difficult. Spaceborne Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) images are unhindered by clouds and can provide clear images whenever there is a satellite pass, hence provide a potentially important tool for monitoring forest changes. Over Sumatra, the JAXA Advanced Land Observing Satellite (ALOS) PALSAR L-band radar provided both ScanSAR HH polarisation with repeat images every 46. days, thus providing much more frequent clear imagery than other available rapid deforestation monitoring tools, and approximately annual Fine-Beam Dual (FBD) image pairs with HH and HV polarisations. Temporal analysis of ScanSAR images shows that deforestation in the Sumatran province of Riau can be identified by large values of the temporal standard deviation, but high detection rates are associated with high false alarm rates, particularly in swamp forest. There does not appear to be a reliable signature of the onset of forest disturbance in the ScanSAR time-series. Deforestation can also be detected in annual FBD data by combining increases and decreases in both the HH and HV channels, since the four types of change are complementary; these different polarisation responses indicate a variety of physical processes that may be involved in the radar signature of deforestation. Significant improvements in performance are possible by combining FBD and ScanSAR data, giving 72% detection of deforestation for a false alarm rate (detection of deforestation in undisturbed forest) of 20%. Error analysis based on (a) likely errors in the Landsat data used to provide a reference for deforestation and (b) differences between the times of acquisition of the Landsat data and the FBD data suggest that the true detection rate for the FBD data is underestimated. All the analysis in the paper uses fully automatic methods, but it is likely that false alarms in the ScanSAR data due to periodic flooding could be reduced by human inspection. The performance figures reported here could also be improved if knowledge about the locations of dry and swamp forest was included in the methodology. © 2012 Elsevier Inc..


Jaenicke J.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich | Wosten H.,Wageningen University | Budiman A.,WWF Indonesia | Siegert F.,Ludwig Maximilians University of Munich
Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change | Year: 2010

Extensive degradation of Indonesian peatlands by deforestation, drainage and recurrent fires causes release of huge amounts of peat soil carbon to the atmosphere. Construction of drainage canals is associated with conversion to other land uses, especially plantations of oil palm and pulpwood trees, and with widespread illegal logging to facilitate timber transport. A lowering of the groundwater level leads to an increase in oxidation and subsidence of peat. Therefore, the groundwater level is the main control on carbon dioxide emissions from peatlands. Restoring the peatland hydrology is the only way to prevent peat oxidation and mitigate CO2 emissions. In this study we present a strategy for improved planning of rewetting measures by dam constructions. The study area is a vast peatland with limited accessibility in Central Kalimantan, Indonesia. Field inventory and remote sensing data are used to generate a detailed 3D model of the peat dome and a hydrological model predicts the rise in groundwater levels once dams have been constructed. Successful rewetting of a 590 km2 large area of drained peat swamp forest could result in mitigated emissions of 1. 4-1. 6 Mt CO2 yearly. This equates to 6% of the carbon dioxide emissions by civil aviation in the European Union in 2006 and can be achieved with relatively small efforts and at low costs. The proposed methodology allows a detailed planning of hydrological restoration of peatlands with interesting impacts on carbon trading for the voluntary carbon market. © The Author(s) 2010.

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