Riau Andalan Pulp & Paper (RAPP) has dedicated its efforts to dealing with the problem of elephant-human conflict in the Riau province of Sumatra by establishing its own Elephant Flying Squad (EFS). Working in collaboration with other businesses and concerned stakeholders such as the World Wildlife Fund, Tesso Nilo National Park Authority (BTNTN), and Tesso Nilo National Park Foundation (YTNTN), RAPP is set to patrol sensitive areas and assist in encouraging wild Sumatran elephants back into the forest.
RAPP, a subsidiary of Asia Pacific Resources International Limited, or APRIL, is a major producer of manufactured paper items for the global market. The company is part of the RGE Group, the $15 billion corporation owned by Indonesian-born founder and CEO Sukanto Tanoto. RAPP and other paper-producing companies manage concessions near Tesso Nilo National Park and other sensitive lands. Wild elephants frequently make incursions into these plantations and human settlements, causing disruptions of varying degrees of severity. Indonesian law on sustainable resources and ecosystem conservation protects the Sumatran elephant, so natural resources companies with facilities in the area have begun to develop creative solutions to the problem.
RAPP has trained six elephants, who work as part of the EFS team under the supervision of nine professional handlers and a medical crew responsible for the animals’ health. The EFS patrol team’s job is to push wild elephants away from plantations and residential areas, record the identities of the wild elephants they encounter, provide conservation information to local communities, and assist in deterring poaching.
Tesso Nilo, a national park created a decade ago, serves as a refuge for the largest remaining group of Sumatran elephants. Development in and around Tesso Nilo has increasingly encroached on elephant territory and has driven the animals into areas where humans reside. Globally focused studies have indicated that human-elephant conflict is not unique to Indonesia, but is a problem almost everywhere elephants exist. Residents near the park have killed elephants, and elephants have damaged property and harmed humans. One of RAPP’s practical solutions to the problem involves digging trenches to prevent elephants from crossing into residential areas.
RAPP continues to take pride in its forest and wildlife conservation efforts in and around its plantations. The company works to protect forests and wildlife habitats and to halt illegal poaching.