Monday, 15 June 2009

Expanding TNBK can save all: Agency

Jon Afrizal , The Jakarta Post , JAMBI | Mon, 06/15/2009

An immediate expansion of the Bukit Tigapuluh National Park (TNBK) is a must in order to reduce the conflict between humans and elephants, say local government officials.

"The only way to prevent *more* conflict between the ani-mals and humans is by expanding *the park*," the Jambi Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA) head Didy Wurjanto said last week.

He said such conflict was still happening in the park's surrounding areas, especially in Tebo regency, Jambi.

Elephants often destroyed residents' oil palm plantations - the elephants' former home areas - because they were looking for food.

Humans were to blame, he said, for clearing land for their oil palm plantations without finding out beforehand that those areas were the habitat of the elephants

"It is understandable why the elephants still go through the plantations, because they assume those areas are still theirs.

"The Forestry Ministry is conducting all the necessary studies, which I hope will be completed soon" Didy said, without giving further details.

The 133,000-hectare park, which is situated both in Jambi and in Riau, will have a planned additional area of 73,800 hectares, extending into the two provinces.

The Tebo regency administration has agreed on the planned expansion and has offered part of the regency for it.

However, the Tanjungjabung Barat regency administration, which had agreed to follow suit, has withdrawn its offer as there are now plans for a coal mining site in the area it was considering.

The Indonesian Conservation Community executive director Warsi Rachmad Hidayat said that as well as avoiding the prolonged conflict between humans and elephants, expanding the national park could also prevent ecological disasters in the future.

Such a program could help recover destroyed forests and reproduce meranti (Shorea sp.) and kempas (Koompassia malaccensis) trees that are in danger of extinction.

The Talangmamak, Orang Rimba and Melayu Tua tribes, who have depended on the national forest for decades, would also benefit from the program.

"With the expansion, their livelihoods will be maintained," said Rachmad.