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Elephant Updates May 2017

Elephant adoptions May 2017

GPS collars have proven to be a highly effective tool for elephant conservation. The collars provide the crucial data on elephant movements and habitat preferences needed to create site-specific management plans and provide reliable information to discuss elephant conservation with local communities, the private sector and Indonesian authorities. It also allows the reliable tracking of elephant movements and recordings of elephant positions substantially supports conservation efforts by field teams. 

The collars send real-time position data which allows for effective and cost-efficient HEC mitigation as farmers can be warned about approaching elephants (thus reducing damage and with it hatred towards our elephants) and elephants can be monitored closely to protect them from threats. This “early-warning-system” does support both the Elephant Conservation and Monitoring ranger teams and local communities and has become a keystone of the elephant conservation project in Bukit Tigapuluh. Elephant safeguarding using ranger patrols and the GPS collars as the central technique is of the utmost importance to acheive elephant protection (from revenge killings and poaching) at the landscape level. 


GPS positions of five monitored elephants (Anna, Cinta, Freda, Ginting, Indah) for the period from October 2016 to March 2017. The home ranges of Anna, Cinta, and Ginting overlap as all three family groups form a large clan of > 60 animals most of the time. Indah and Freda joined for a few weeks in 2016 but soon left again. 


Anna Update

Profile & Background

Anna was collared for the first time in July 2012. After losing her GPS in 2013, Anna was monitored by ground teams via direct tracking before she was re-collared in July 2013. Before this second collar was worn down it was replaced by a new one in August 2015. 

Anna is part of a herd of about 30 elephants and shares her home range with Cinta and Ginting’s herds. There are several babies and juveniles of all ages in the herd indicating healthy natural growth. However, Anna and her herd live in a challenging area. Their home range overlaps with a variety of different land-use types which create a patchwork of natural forest mixed with production forest, commercial plantations, small-scale farming land and coal mining areas. The area does provide excellent feeding grounds in form of secondary forest patches with rich undergrowth, but does not include large connected natural forests. 

As a consequence of the fragmented habitat, Anna and her herd frequently come into conflicts with people, especially with farmers planting oil palms and other crops that are highly attractive for hungry elephants. Constant monitoring and safeguarding is necessary to protect both Anna and local communities from negative impacts that the overlap of traditional elephant territory and the more recent human activities is causing. 

Update October 2016 – March 2017

Nothing much has changed with Anna and her herd. They are safe but still in conflict prone areas! As in the previous monitoring period, Anna spent most of her time with Ginting and Cinta and all three family groups often joined into a large clan of over 60 elephants. While the area that the three family groups live in provides heaps of fodder, the patchwork of fields and forest invites conflict. As in the previous period, our teams were busy supporting farmers in their attempts to keep elephants away from their plantations, and had many sleepless nights when the elephants came close to settlements and homes. The efforts by the dedicated ECMU teams have proven effective so far; both elephants and farmers were kept safe, although some unguarded fields and plantations were raided. 

We believe that Anna gave birth some time ago and she is very secretive about it.  It has therefore been very difficult to actually see the calf in the dense vegetation. Anna always travels very close to Ginting who is also collared and this makes it difficult for the teams to distinguish between Anna and Ginting and which calf belongs to who! 


Map of Anna’s GPS collar positions based on satellite telemetry data collected from October 2016 to March 2017. Anna spent much of her time with Cinta and Ginting, all three families forming a large clan of more than sixty animals at times. 


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Cinta Update

Profile & Background

Cinta was first collared in July 2012 and was re-collared in January 2014 in order to replace the already quite battered old collar. This second collar was replaced in August 2015 with a new one, which will now hopefully last for about two years. 

Cinta and her herd used to have their core home range in an extended lowland forest patch which directly connects to the southern part of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park. That’s ideal for the elephants but renders it very difficult to follow them on foot for direct observations. 

Since 2014, Cinta and her family often joined with other larger female groups in the area, forming a large clan of more than 60 elephants. It looks like that she has now switched her home range to the southern parts of the landscape, joining with Anna and Ginting. While food is abundant there, the risk for human-elephant conflict (HEC) is high, requiring constant monitoring and conflict mitigation. 

Update October 2016 – March 2017

As in the previous monitoring period, Cinta spent much of her time with Ginting and Anna, with all three family groups often joining into a large clan of over 60 elephants. Cinta’s family usually keeps a bit of a distance to the other two groups, and sometimes also splits from the clan for several days.  While the area that the three family groups live in provides heaps of fodder, the patchwork of fields and forest invites conflict. As in the previous period, our teams were busy supporting farmers in their attempts to keep elephants away from their plantations, and had many sleepless nights when the elephants came close to settlements and houses. The efforts have proven effective so far; both elephants and farmers were kept safe, however, some unguarded fields and plantations were raided. 

There are many newborn calves in Cinta’s herd which is very positive. There are also plenty of young bulls present; thus plenty of reasons to keep an intensive watch over the herd. Sadly, poaching for ivory is still a major threat, and even young bulls have been shot for their small tusks in the past, as ivory is still very valuable on the black markets all around the world. 


Map of Cinta’s GPS collar positions based on satellite telemetry data collected from October 2016 to March 2017. Cinta spent much of her time together with Anna and Ginting in the southern part of the landscape. 


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Freda Update

Profile & Background

Freda was first collared in July 2013 in order to replace Bella who had lost her GPS collar before. In early 2015 we replaced Freda’s collar for the first time as the old collar was already worn down and about to fail. In October 2016, this collar was replaced with a brand new one, as the old started to break apart.  

For many years Freda’s family had its core home range within a commercial forest concession, but large-scale clear cutting and widespread forest fires have destroyed most of Freda’s original habitat.

In search for food, Freda and the herd moved eastwards, into the southern buffer of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park, where they sometimes join with Indah’s herd for a few weeks. 

Update October 2016 – March 2017

After a period of intense conflict, Freda and her family joined Indah’s herd in October 2016. As her collar was no longer working very well and had started to break apart, her collar was replaced in October. Only few weeks later, Freda was on the move again, this time westwards. Passing through densely populated farmland, forest concessions and encroached areas, Freda and her family eventually reached her original home range, the forest concession TMA. 
However, the group did not stay there for very long as the vegetation was not tall enough to provide sufficient fodder and cover (after clear cutting and forest fires in 2016), and the herd moved eastwards again, into conflict prone areas. Finding food in fields and plantations, Freda gave us a hard time to mitigate the conflicts; several times the forest police needed to be called in to calm down upset farmers that had lost part of their crops. Just as conflicts were to escalate, the herd moved north into the remaining forest of the ecosystem restoration concession PT ABT Block 2. Everyone was very relieved when Freda’s herd moved and let’s hope they stay in this area for some time!

Map of Freda’s GPS collar positions based on satellite telemetry data collected from October 2016 to March 2017. Freda moved to half of the landscape, twice! Between October and December 2016 she traveled from the southern buffer of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park westwards back to her original home range. As food was not yet available in required quantities, the herd moved back to the ecosystem restoration concession ABT block 2, causing quite some damage on the way through fields and plantations. 




Ginting Update

Profile & Background

Ginting was first collared in January 2014. In August 2015 this collar was replaced by a new unit. Ginting and her family group are most likely closely related to the females of Anna’s herd. Since 2014 both families spend much of their time together, often forming a larger clan that roams together. 

Ginting has a male calf named Chrisna. Chrisna was only a few weeks old when we first collared Ginting in 2014. The baby bull has developed into a buffalo-sized healthy animal (elephants are among the animals with the fastest body growth), always up for trouble and play!

Update October 2016 – March 2017

Nothing much has changed with Ginting and her family; they are safe but unfortunately they are still in conflict prone areas! As in the previous monitoring period, Ginting spent most of her time with Anna and Cinta, with all three family groups often forming a large clan of over 60 elephants. While the area the three family groups live in provides heaps of fodder, the patchwork of fields and forest invites conflict. 

As in the previous period, our teams were busy supporting farmers in their attempts to keep elephants away from their plantations, and had many sleepless nights when the elephants came close to settlements and homes. The efforts by the dedicated ECMU teams have proven effective so far; both elephants and farmers were kept safe, although some unguarded fields and plantations were raided. 


Map of Ginting’s GPS collar positions based on satellite telemetry data collected from October 2016 to March 2017. Ginting spent much of her time together with Anna and Cinta in the southern part of the landscape. 


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  • Anna
  • Cinta
  • Freda
  • Ginting