A resident (R) looks at the carcass of a male Sumatran elephant, its head and trunks mutilated and ivory tusks missing, in Aceh Jaya district on Indonesia’s Sumatra island. According to Natural Resources Conservation Agency the elephant was killed by a booby trap set up by unidentified people.
In the month of May, three elephants were found dead in Tesso Nilo National Park, south of Aceh. Fewer than 3,000 endangered Sumatran elephants remain in the wild, according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. Rampant expansion of palm oil, paper plantations, and mines, has destroyed nearly 70 percent of the Sumatran elephant’s forest habitat over 25 years, conservationist says, and the animals remain a target of poaching.
A work-in-progress campaign to save the Tripa Peat Swamps. The campaign is in partnership with the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program (SOCP).
“Tripa is home to the highest population density of Orangutans found anywhere on earth” Said Dr Ian Singleton, Conservation Director of the Sumatran Orangutan Conservation Program.”
“In 1990 we estimate there was almost 2000 Orangutans in the Tripa Peat forest, and now today it could be less than 200 due to the ongoing and often illegal clearance of forest through the conversion to palm oil plantations. Satellite imagery obtained shows over 1500 hectares of conversion in the last 6 months in Tripa alone, and our ground team has reported ongoing fires and illegal activity of operations in palm oil concessions despite a central government investigation into their behavior.”
The three remaining coastal peat swamp forests of Aceh, namely Tripa, Kluet and Singkil, are among the most precious natural habitats in the world. They harbour the highest orangutan densities in the world and about 30% of the remaining 6,600 Critically Endangered Sumatran orangutans. They represent vital biological corridors linking the Indian ocean to the dryland rainforests of the rest of the Leuser Ecosystem and the Gunung Leuser National Park, that sits within it (itself a Man and Biosphere Reserve and UNESCO World Heritage Site).
These coastal forests also constitute an effective barrier against natural disasters, such as Tsunamis, and play a crucial role in sustainable local livelihoods. Furthermore, peat swamp forests store huge amounts of carbon, both in the above ground vegetation, but also below ground, in the deep peat layers, and their destruction contributes significantly to global climate change. Despite these many assets, two thirds of the Tripa peat swamp forest have already been logged for palm oil plantations. (Source: SOCP)