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Elephant Updates November 2016

General Information on the GPS-Collar Project

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. The reliable tracking of 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 Human-Elephant Conflict (HEC) mitigation as farmers can be warned about approaching elephants. This will then reduce damage caused by the elephants and with it, anger towards the elephants living in Bukit Tigapuluh (BTP). The elephants can also be monitored closely to protect them from threats. This “early-warning-system” does support both the Elephant Conservation and Monitoring Unit (ECMU) ranger teams and local communities and has become a keystone of the elephant conservation project in Bukit Tigapuluh (BP). Elephant safeguarding using ranger patrols and the GPS collars as the main technique is of outmost importance to achieve 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 April to September 2016. The home ranges of Anna, Cinta, and Ginting do overlap as all three family groups often join to form a larger clan of over 60 animals. 

The IEP funded ECMU teams and senior veterinarian have been very busy over the last six months. A jumbo task that was recently undertaken (November 2016), was the relocation of a young bull elephant named ‘Haris’ from the BTP ecosystem to Harapan forest- literally meaning ‘forest of hope.’

Haris has been monitored and tracked by the ECMU for years. He has been in constant danger due to his extensive travels into highly populated agricultural areas.

After much thought, discussion and planning, all parties involved with elephant conservation in BTP agreed that for his own safely, Haris needed to be relocated. Haris was sedated and monitored closely by IEP vet Christopher Stremme during the whole process. Once at Harapan, Haris was released close to the resident female herd that is monitored using satellite telemetry. Both Haris and the resident herd will be closely monitored for a minimum of six months. It is very much hoped that Haris will settle into his new surroundings and become the sire of future offspring in the area. IEP is also funding elephant monitoring and protection in Harapan forest.


Haris sedated and then being transported to Harapan forest on a truck


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 homerange 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 April - September 2016

Anna continued to spend much of her time with Ginting and Cinta with all three family groups often joining into a large clan of over 60 animals. It appears that Ginting and Anna have a very close relationship as they were often seen together, walking right next to each other. Cinta usually keeps her distance, and sometimes also strayed off a few kilometers with her herd for several days. 

While the area that the three family groups live in provides plentiful 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 habitations. The efforts have proven effective so far with both elephants and farmers kept safe, although of course some unguarded fields and plantations were still raided. 

Anna is still seen with her now sub-adult calf. There are no signs that she has given birth to a new calf as yet.


Position data received from Anna’s GPS collar (red dots) and elephant positions of four additional elephants monitored (white dots) south of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park. 



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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 April - September 2016

Cinta continued to spend much of her time with Ginting and Anna, with all three family groups often joining into a large clan of over 60 animals. Cinta however usually keeps her distance, and sometimes also strayed off a few kilometers with her herd for several days.  

While the area the three family groups live in provides plentiful 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 habitations. The efforts have proven effective so far, with both elephants and farmers kept safe, although some unguarded fields and plantations were stil raided. 

There are many newborn calves in Cinta’s herd which is a very encouraging sign. 


Distribution data received from Cinta’s GPS collar (red dots) and elephant positions of additional elephants monitored (white dots) south of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park. 



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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. 

Until early this year, Freda and her family were separated from most other elephants in the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape. However, this changed recently and Freda has now joined with Indah’s family group in the extensive ecosystem restoration concession just south of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park.  

Update April - September 2016

For many years Freda’s family had its core home range within a commercial forest concession, but this changed this year. After large scale clear-cutting of the pulpwood concession and widespread forest fires destroyed most of Freda’s habitat and food sources, the herd moved eastwards. Freda ended up in a high conflict area close to Pemayungan village, where our team had a hard time to de-escalate conflicts between elephants and local people. After a few months within this high risk area, the herd moved on, eventually ending up in the ecosystem restoration concession (ERC) managed by PT Alam Bukit Tigapuluh (ABT). There, Freda met with Indah’s family group, and both families spent several days together. 

We hope that we can keep Freda in the lowland forest of the ERC. The future will show whether the carrying capacity in this particular area will be large enough to accommodate all of the elephants. We are currently negotiating with neighboring concession holders on terms to improve the capacity of their areas to support part of the Bukit Tigapuluh elephant population in the future. 

Freda’s GPS unit had problems sending data for the past months and it is planned to exchange her GPS collar in late 2016. It is of utmost importance to continue monitoring Freda and her herd because the group has showed very unusual long-distance travel. This made it difficult to track her on foot with conventional tracking methods, and we need to observe whether (and if, how well) Freda will settle in to her new home range. 


Distribution data received from Freda’s GPS collar (red dots) and elephant positions of additional elephants monitored (white dots) south of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park. 


Ginting & Chrisna 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 April - September 2016

Ginting continued to spend much of her time with Anna and Cinta’s herds with all three family groups often forming a large clan of over 60 animals. Ginting and Anna are really close as they were often seen together, walking right next to each other. Cinta, in contrast, usually keeps her distance, and sometimes also strayed off a few kilometers with her herd for several days.

While the area the three family groups live in provides ample 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 habitations. The efforts have proven effective so far, with both elephants and farmers kept safe, although some unguarded fields and plantation were still raided. 


Distribution data received from Ginting’s GPS collar (red dots) and elephant positions of additional elephants monitored (white dots) south of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park.



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  • Anna
  • Cinta
  • Freda
  • Ginting