Forest Fires and Disruption of the Elephants’ Home Range in Hutan Harapan

The wildfires that have ravaged forest areas in much of Sumatra and Kalimantan during August and September of this year have not only affected millions of people on those islands and beyond, but also animals.

The herd of 8 elephants in the southern portion of Hutan Harapan travelled outside of their usual home range in order to avoid the forest fires.  Seven of them moved into the south-western area which they had never done before. In the process, new human-elephant conflicts were triggered with villages outside of Hutan Harapan. Fortunately, the Hutan Harapan team was able to herd them back to Hutan Harapan.   At the same time, one of the male elephants, Haris went off in a north-easterly direction in order to avoid the fires.

“Forest fires can affect the movement of elephants and it is also possible that they affect the movement of other wildlife in Hutan Harapan,” said Elva Gemita’s Environmental, Research and Development Manager. The availability of water and food is the main determinant in elephants’ decision to move. Elva added that this is one of the reasons why preventing and extinguishing forest fires is so important. (ETBS)