Flooding forces elephants to enter residential area in Riau

An elephant sprays dust on its body in the northern town of Mathura, India, on Nov 16, 2018.
An elephant sprays dust on its body in the northern town of Mathura, India, on Nov 16, 2018.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK) - Floods have forced a herd of 11 wild elephants to flee their natural habitat and enter plantation areas located near a residential compound in Tapung district, Kampar regency, Riau province.

The elephants had reportedly eaten and destroyed a cassava plantation, young oil palms and other plants before they went into hiding in the bushes located some 3 to 4km from the residential area.

The head of the Riau Natural Resource Conservation Agency (BBKSDA), Heru Sutmantoro, said the plantations were in what was originally the natural habitat of the wild elephants, which move from one place to another between Pekanbaru, Kampar and Siak.

"Tapung is one of their crossing areas," Heru said on Tuesday (Nov 20), adding that the elephants had avoided it because it was inundated with water.

He said the 11 members of the herd all belong to the same family. They consist of adult female elephants, juveniles and a calf.

Responding to reports from residents, BBKSDA Riau promptly sent four personnel from the Minas elephant training centre to prevent the herd from approaching the housing. He confirmed that the team had found traces of the elephants.

"The team is still in the field and maintaining communications with the plantation owners. They also patrol the site at night," Heru said.

According to Heru, the team had drawn up a plan to drive the elephant herd to Minas in Siak regency or to Koto Garo in Kampar regency by using firecrackers and cannon.