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. Indonesian Villagers Call For Action Against Marauding Elephants

File photo: Asiatic elephant.
by Staff Writers
Jakarta (AFP) Nov 30, 2006
Thousands of residents in Indonesia's Aceh province Thursday threatened to occupy the local parliament unless something is done about wild elephants attacking their villages, a report said. Elephants repeatedly rampage through residential areas of Sumatra island because of deforestation that has reduced their habitat.

The people of Trumon and East Trumon districts "have had it with the increasing wild elephants attacks in the past two weeks," parliamentarian T. Munadi was quoted by the official Antara news agency as saying.

Residents forced to move out of their villages had threatened to occupy the assembly unless the dozen wild elephants were driven away from their homes, he said.

A community leader from East Trumon said his people were prepared to kill the marauding beasts, which are a protected species, to defend themselves. "If this continues, it is better to kill the elephants," Tengku Zaimansyah said.

Environmental group WWF said 21 elephants were killed in the first 10 months of this year in the central Sumatran province of Riau.

In April, WWF said that elephants in Sumatra, the only Indonesian island where they are found apart from a small population on Borneo, were dying at an alarming pace with numbers dropping by 75 percent in just 18 years.

As of 2003, only about 350 to 430 elephants remained, it said.

Their natural habitat is increasingly being taken over by resettlement, plantations and industrial estates, leading to more frequent conflicts between beast and man.

Experts say palm oil plantations also offer the pachyderms a more attractive source of food than can be found in the forest.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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