As more and more forest is cleared for palm oil plantations and timber estates, the Borneo pygmy Elephant is increasingly coming into conflict with humans in the East Kalimantan district of Nunukan. Since 2006, elephants are now venturing into human settlements about once every seven months and with more of their forest habitat disappearing, elephant visits are likely to increase.
For information on biodiversity conservation in Borneo, please visit: http://borneoproject.org/borneo/biodiversity-conservation
Deforestation Pits Elephants Against Man in Nunukan
Tunggadewa Mattangkilang | April 07, 2012
Balikpapan. Elephants are increasingly coming into conflict with humans in the East Kalimantan district of Nunukan as more of the forest is cleared away for palm oil plantations and timber estates, a wildlife activist said on Friday.
Wiwin Effendi, a coordinator for the East Kalimantan chapter of the World Wildlife Fund, said a 2007 survey estimated the elephant population in Nunukan at between 30 and 80, with most of the animals located in Tobun Onsoi subdistrict.
“Elephants are now venturing into human settlements about once every seven months, and this has been going on since 2006. Companies have to help people shoo the elephants away from their fields,” Wiwin said.
But he warned that with more of their forest habitat disappearing, the elephants would come into more frequent contact with villages on the rim of the forest, increasing the risk for both humans and animals.
Wiwin said his organization was planning to release updated information on the elephant population in Nunukan in June.
Rahmat Suba, a biodiversity conservation lecturer at Mulawarman University in Samarinda, the provincial capital, said the government needed to limit the large-scale clearing of forests for plantations and mines.
“If the land near the elephants’ habitat is cleared, it is only natural that the elephants will find their food sources depleted,” he said. “And when that happens, herds of elephants will rampage through human settlements in search of food.”
He said the elephants in Nunukan mostly lived near the Sibuda, Afgison and Apan rivers.
He said that despite their smaller size, elephants in Kalimantan required about two hectares of forest to feed each day.
The Borneo elephant, also called the Borneo pygmy elephant, is much smaller than its cousins in the jungles of Sumatra.
It has been listed as endangered by the International Union for Conservation of Nature, with habitat loss, degradation and fragmentation as the main threats to the species.