Land Fires Trigger Human-Elephant Conflict in Riau

LAMANRIAU.COM, PEKANBARU – Forest and land fires in Riau not only affect humans and the economy, but also affect the survival of Sumatran elephants (Elepahas Maxsimus Sumateranus).

World Wildlife Fund (WWF) International Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) activist for the Riau region has asked the government to immediately handle the fire. This is because the impact of the forest and land disturbs the survival of animals that are on the verge of extinction.

“Fires have an impact on the loss of biodiversity, including natural elephant food,” said WWF Public Relations, Riau Syamsidar, Tuesday (6/8).

He emphasized that forest and land fires triggered new conflicts between humans and elephants. Typically, the perpetrators will move back to planting oil palms, plantations covered with land that was previously burned. This often happens when post-forestry. Partially burned land is also an area for elephants and elephant crossings.

“Adding more open land causes the narrowing of elephant habitat. This will trigger more conflict if the land is used as land for human activity,” he added.

Sumatran elephants in Riau are now scattered in a number of districts and cities in Riau. However, elephants’ pockets in Riau have been damaged by human or corporate encroachment. Riau’s Tesso Nilo National Park (TNTN), which is one of the Sumatran elephant enclaves, is currently burning. More than half of TNTN’s conservation forests are burned and encroached and transformed into settlements and plantations.

“Land fires also destroys the natural food of Sumatran elephants, which are semamtung plants. At present there are about 300 elephants in Suamtera in Riau,” he added.

Environmental conservation activists and endangered species from Wildlife Conservation Indonesia (WCI) emphasized that fires around elephant activities would create conflict.

“If there is a fire nearby, it will trigger a conflict. Elephants will stay away from the fire and can get closer to the community’s garden and a new conflict will occur,” said Wildlife Conservation Supervisor Muhammad Arif.

Fires in Riau caused thousands of hectares of forest and land to be destroyed. Thousands of people have contracted ISPA (Acute Respiratory Infections) due to inhaling the haze. In addition to residents’ land, fires also occurred in many companies such as in the area of PT Surya Dumai, PT Jatim Jaya Perkasa Teluk Bano II, PT Wahana Sawit Subur Indah, PT Seraya Sumber Lestari and PT Langgam Inti Hibrindo (LIH), PT Arara Abadi Sinarmas Group and oil field owned by Joint Operation Agency of PT Bumi Siak Pusako (BOB BSP) -Pertamina Hulu. (okz)

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