- The provinces of North Sumatra and Aceh in Indonesia’s embattled and highly deforested island of Sumatra are some of the last holdouts for the critically endangered Sumatran elephant.
- With the clock running out to save them, and extractive industries like oil palm fragmenting their habitat, pushing them to the brink, villagers are taking measures into their own hands by reducing human-elephant conflict to save the species from further harm.
- Also in North Sumatra lies a controversial planned hydroelectric dam site in the last habitat of the critically endangered Tapanuli orangutan, a project that has also claimed 16 human lives in less than two years.
- On the Mongabay Newscast this week, Leif Cocks, founder of the International Elephant Project and the Orangutan Project, weighs in on the status of the Sumatran elephant and the Tapanuli orangutan.
On this episode of the Mongabay Newscast, repeat guest Leif Cocks joins to discuss recent reporting from Mongabay on the continued destruction of habitat for the critically endangered Sumatran elephant, and the farmers who have banded together in conservation patrol units to reduce the incidence of human-elephant conflict.
He also shares his thoughts on the prospects for survival of the recently described Tapanuli orangutan in the face of a hydroelectric dam project in North Sumatra that’s also been stained by the tragic loss of 16 workers’ lives so far.
Our guest also shares his thoughts on what our treatment of sentient, non-human persons, like elephants, says about humanity in general and how the growing trend of recognizing their personhood changes that.
When he appeared on the Mongabay Explores podcast in January of 2021, he stated that we have only 10 years to stabilize populations of Sumatran elephants. In this episode, he explains how and if survival prospects are changing, what continues to drive elephants toward extinction, and what can be done to increase their odds of survival. He also shares information about the International Elephant Project’s new book detailing the organization’s entire conservation plan for the Sumatran elephant, titled Island Elephants: The Giants of Sumatra by Alexander Moßbrucker, field manager at IEP.
You can listen to the previous episodes that cover Sumatran elephants from Mongabay Explores, and also the plight of the Tapanuli orangutan in the face of the Batang Toru dam, here:
- ‘Chased from every side’: Sumatran elephants pinned down by forest loss
- Photos: Meet the Indonesians on the front lines of human-elephant conflict in Sumatra
Banner Image: Sumatran elephants play in water. Image by vincentraal via Flickr (CC BY-SA 2.0).