Elephant Squad Keeps the Peace

Indonesia using novel solution to rampages
By Nick McMaster,  Newser Staff
Posted Dec 6, 2007 2:46 PM CST
Elephant Squad Keeps the Peace
An Indonesian girl plays at an abandoned logging site in Kuala Cenaku village in Riau province, on Sumatra island, Indonesia, Saturday, Nov. 3, 2007. Excessive logging has made contact between elephants and humans more common and more dangerous. (AP Photo/Dita Alangkara)   (Associated Press)

(Newser) – Conflicts between elephant and man are common in Indonesia, fueled by the establishment of plantations ever-deeper into the Sumatran jungle. Since 2002, 42 people and 100 elephants have died in clashes, the Wall Street Journal reports. Enter the “Flying Squad,” four trained elephants and their keepers who patrol the jungle borders, forcing dangerous wild herds away from human areas.

The squad, brainchild of the World Wildlife Fund, has managed to eliminate human or elephant casualties around Tesso Nilo National Park, and nearby plantations are setting up their own elephant squads. "Before, local people were saying they wanted to kill the elephants," one WWF officer said. "They are not angry anymore, as the Flying Squad is helping to protect their plantations." (Read more elephant habitat stories.)

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