Thu, 29 May 2003

Elephants protect forests

BENGKULU, Bengkulu: The provincial nature conservation agency has formed a team of officials and elephants to safeguard protected forests against illegal logging.

"The team consists of forest rangers and is assisted by 28 trained elephants," said agency head Agus Priambudi on Wednesday.

He said that using elephants helped the forest rangers patrol and safeguard the 252,042 hectares of protected forests in Bengkulu.

The agency began using the elephants last year on a trial basis. The animals underwent training at the province's elephant training center in North Bengkulu regency.

"The results from employing elephants are quite satisfactory," Agus said, noting a drop in illegal logging. "As a follow up we established this special team," he added.

He said the elephants were trained to identify the sound of chain saws and machines used by illegal loggers. Once they hear the sound, the elephants approach the area from where the sound came. Most of the time illegal loggers run away when they see an elephant coming straight at them, Agus said. -- Antara