- In Sumatra, elephants’ forested habitat has been replaced recently at a rapid pace for commercial activities like oil palm plantations, pulp and paper production, and other uses.
- The total Sumatran elephant population was estimated to be no more than 2,800 individuals in 2007, but they likely number about half that now.
- It’s been said that there’s just 10 years left to save this critically endangered species, and experts that Mongabay spoke with say that this is probably optimistic: however, taking the meaningful actions they suggest could succeed during that time and would have additional benefits for other wildlife plus human communities, too.
- This podcast is the latest in the Mongabay Explores series, taking a deep dive into the fascinating wildlife and complicated conservation issues of this giant Indonesian island.
The Sumatran elephant is a small Asian elephant whose numbers are dwindling as their lowland forest habitats are converted to uses like oil palm plantations. Experts say that Indonesia has just 10 years to turn this trend around and save them from the eternity of extinction – though this is optimistic, taking the steps needed will have additional benefits for human communities and wildlife.
To explore the issues and urgency surrounding the animals’ conservation, Mongabay’s podcast spoke with three guests: Leif Cocks, the founder of the International Elephant Project, Sapariah “Arie” Saturi, Mongabay-Indonesia‘s senior writer and editor who’s reported regularly on the issue; and Dr. Wishnu Sukmantoro, an elephant expert at Indonesia’s Bogor Agricultural University.
Two recent articles Arie reported for Mongabay on the topic:
- As a forest in Sumatra disappears for farms and roads, so do its elephants
- On plantations and in ‘protected’ areas, Sumatran elephants keep turning up dead
Mongabay Explores is a special podcast series that dives into the unique beauty, natural heritage, and key issues facing this one of a kind landscape by speaking with people working to study, understand, and protect it. Episode 1 features a Goldman Prize winner from Sumatra about what makes his home so special, listen here, and further programs have focused on the people working to save the Sumatran rhino, the reasons why deforestation is so widespread in the province, and how a hydropower dam in the Batang Toru Ecosystem threatens core habitat of the world’s rarest great ape, the Tapanuli orangutan. The Sumatran tiger has also been discussed during the series, listen to our conversation about the challenge of conserving this charismatic cat here.
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Banner image: Sumatran elephants feed on a variety of plants and deposit seeds wherever they go, contributing to a healthy forest ecosystem. Photo courtesy of World Wildlife Fund.