Sumatran Elephants Conflict


Elephant Conflict in Bukit Tigapuluh

In Depth Coverage

Sumatran Elephants Conflict in Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem, Indonesia

Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem has a critically endangered ecofloristic sector by deforestation as defined by Yves Laumonier. It is also home to numerous rare and endemic flora and fauna. One of the most charismatic fauna that lives here is the Sumatran Elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus), classified by IUCN as endangered. The habitat of this giant mammal is threatened because of its preference for flat topographies in the ecosystem outside the protected forest and national park.

There are about 4000 people living in the immediate vicinity to the elephants while there are more than 100 individual (in total) Sumatran Elephants living in the ecosystem. Crop raiding by elephants occurs frequently and as a result, elephants have been poisoned by the affected locals. During 2009, an increased number of serious incidents were recorded in which elephants entered small settlements, destroyed homes and even killed and injured people. Thus it is likely that human-elephant conflicts will escalate in the near future, if something isn't done.

This project aims to understand the spatial distribution of elephant conflict in this highly unique region. The landuse/landcover data derived from the Planet Action project and conflict characteristics data from Alex Mossbrucker's project will be used to generate maps that will allow the definition of elephant conflict mitigation strategies to minimize the conflicts and achieve win-win solution that will benefit both the local communities and the elephants.

  • Link With Climate Change


    In addition to halting the human-elephant conflict, this project will also greatly reduce deforestation in this area as the final goal is to separate the elephants from human activities. The project also includes guarding and protecting the forest from any illegal activities. 

    A recent estimation of forest cover in 2009 made by Paska Ariandy Iswanto concludes that there is at least 65,000,000 ton carbon stored in the Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem. Saving these carbon resources will reduce the carbon leakage and avoid an increase in temperature, whilst also maintaining rich biodiversity in this ecosystem.

  • Objectives


    Understanding where the landuse/landcover distribution of the conflicts and analyzing the relationships between landuse/landcover and conflict characteristics are the main objectives of this project. These results will be useful for elephant mitigation studies, not only in Sumatra, but also in other areas.


  • Work plan


    The elephant conflict data will be taken from Alex Mossbrucker's and the Elephant Conflict Mitigation Unit's (part of the already established Wildlife Protection Unit) survey data during 2010. This data will include coordinate location, damage data, socioeconomic data of the victims of elephant attacks, as well as elephant sex and age determination. Landuse/landcover data will also be collected in the field.

    Paska Iswanto is responsible for carrying out the analysis of GIS and remote sensing images, including generating landuse, groundtruthing the data, overlaying the landuse data with the elephant characteristics data and compiling a report of the results.

    Dr. Peter Pratje and Alex Mossbrucker will assist Paska Iswanto to analyse the data with their expertise in this field.


  • Schedule


    The first phase of this long term project begins in 2010 and will be completed in 2011. The satellite imageries will be scanned for the best image qualities in 2010 and then requests will be made to Planet Action in the same year. In 2011, after the survey is completed, the satellite images will be processed and combined with the GPS data from surveys to analyse the relationship between the spatial distribution of conflicts and respective landuse/landcover.

  • Technical and Scientific Approach & Methods Proposed


    The images will be normalized for atmospheric,radiometric, and geometric distortion with various algorithms to determine the most reliable method for the tropics. The images will also be cleaned from cloud effects using various images taken on different dates. If possible, pan-sharpening will be used to increase the resolution. Then, the images will be classified using mixed supervised, unsupervised,and manual digitizing, according to the severity of the cloud cover and the images available. The classification will be done using ancillary data from survey data, provincial maps, concession maps, and other existing landuse/landcover maps.  After these processes, all GPS survey data will be converted into GIS format and then be overlaid on to the landuse/landcover classification results and several maps for each characteristics will be derived. Besides maps, relevant statistics will also be calculated.

    For assistance with the advanced technical and scientific aspects, we will consult our partner, Landgate, a GIS and remote sensing branch of Government of Western Australia, and Mark Wieland, a GIS PhD student from Gemany who specializes in vegetation analysis recognition. Consultation with a local remote sensing mailing list (RSGIS Forum) will also be carried out if there is any problem with landuse/landcover classification. If SPOT Planet Action can contribute with training nearby (for example, in Singapore) in deriving high quality data, high quality maps will be produced.

  • Results


    The results of this project will be reported in December 2011. Distribution maps of elephant conflicts in Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem with their characteristics and the analysis of the objectives both quantitatively and qualitatively will be illustrated. 

    Every month, in the "Project Day to Day" section, the project leader will update the news concerning the challenges, difficulties, and successes of the project. The project leader will also give updates regarding the latest conflicts in Bukit Tigapuluh obtained from the FZS surveys, local and national newspapers, and other sources. 

  • Deliverables


    This project will be one of the parameters used for developing "Human-Elephant Conflict Mitigation Strategies" that will be lead by Alex Mossbrucker. The outcomes will be implemented immediately in the area after all data have been analysed followed by consistent monitoring to assess the success of the implementation. The final aim of the project is to develop peaceful relationships between local people and Sumatran elephants who both claim this area as their home.

  • Use of Satellite Imagery and GIS Solutions


    SPOT 5 and/or Formosat-2 imageries will be used as the area is fairly large and often has thick cloud cover. The newest version of ESRI ArcGIS and ITT ENVI are needed  since it can boost the Frankfurt Zoological Society's scientific capabilities to allow more advanced analysis, for this and future projects. 

  • Local Actions


    All project outcomes will be forwarded to the Department for Nature Conservation And Forestry in Jambi and the National Park Administration Office in Riau. This will assure that the project's results have the maximum chance of being recognized and implemented, as both authorities work together with the FZS branch office. The site-specific Human -Elephant Mitigation strategies and techniques that have resulted from the research will be summed up in a brochure and forwarded to the local communities. After the funding period, the FZS branch office in Jambi will be involved in creating the frequently updated management plan for the Bukit Tigapuluh Forest. They will also continue to organize weekend workshops in order to directly inform local farmers about these innovations and to promote and support their implementation. Furthermore, project activities and outcomes will be reported to the local manager of the commercial plantations in the region and to RISTEK, the State Ministry of Research and Technology of the Republic of Indonesia. 





  • Miscellaneous information / interesting details on project


    There are two proposed logging concessions in the elephant habitat of interest for this project, Lestari Asri Jaya and Rimba Hutani Mas. Lestari Asri Jaya Concession is largely located of the "Riau-Jambi" and the "Semambu" elephant habitat. In their Environmental Impact Assessment, they only allowed a small 'buffer zone' strip around the national park which is insufficient in size and shape to maintain the resident Sumatran Elephant population. While Rimba Hutani Mas, already cancelled a concession in 2009, it has been endorsed again by the Governor of Jambi to the new Ministry of Forestry. These cases are very inconsistent with the Copenhagen promise of President of Indonesia to reduce 26% of carbon emission by 2020.

    Frankfurt Zoological Society, World Wide Fund, and Komunitas Konservasi Indonesia - Warung Informasi have actively worked together to stop ongoing deforestation in the ecosystem. We currently propose an ecosystem restoration concept which will guarantee the protection of the High Conservation Value Forest . A similar restoration concept has already been proven to be successful in other areas, in particular, the Harapan rainforest in the Jambi and South Sumatra Province. 


  • Region Name

    Bukit Tigapuluh Ecosystem, Jambi and Riau, Indonesia
  • Partners involved in project

    Perth Zoo, Australian Orangutan Project, Landgate - Government of Western Australia