By Dr. Sunarto (WWF Indonesia)
It has been recognized that issues of human-wildlife conflict are due to their habitat being converted into agricultural areas and human settlements. Existing conservation areas are no longer adequate for long term viability of populations of wildlife. Because of the push for sustainability, plantations can no longer do the ‘business as usual’. Plantations need to be actively involved in wildlife conservation and the government as well as NGOs need to provide support.
Steps for possible better practices for plantations were suggested and elaborated in detail. During area selection, it is essential that the ecological aspects of the area is understood, and this includes the distribution and population size of wildlife. During land clearing, plantations should ensure that there will be no habitat loss and no habitat degradation. As operations are in place, it is important that plantations ensure habitat provision and have in place conflict mitigation plan. Awareness is also to be promoted among plantation workers. Plantations could also extend their role in conservation by supporting conservation programs beyond its landscape.
In order to help plantations in helping its wildlife within its plantation boundaries, WWF Indonesia has come up with few guidelines on the better management practices particularly for elephants, orang utans and tigers.
Examples of human-wildlife conflict mitigation are highlighted. For the human-tiger mitigation in an oil palm plantation, awareness programs have been conducted to educate plantation workers. Another example is the Elephant Flying Squad and Mobile Team, established to deal with conflicts as well as monitoring of elephant movements using telemetry and drones. WWF Indonesia has also come out with a human-wildlife conflict and mitigation database (HWCM) as well as SAFE Rapid assessment. These compiles information on human-wildlife conflicts, conducts rapid assessment and later on develop and implement the SAFE strategy. The SAFE system is an approach that is holistic and long-term and considers the landscape as a whole rather than in isolation and separated. It is site and context specific and recognizes the importance of people and their assets, wildlife and their habitat to build safe and harmonious co-existence with nature.
Other types of mitigation plans and its successes were discussed. In Riau for example, some interventions such as education, and crop protection units were successful, while elephant flying squad and the removal of problematic elephants were partly successful. It is important to note that every plantation is unique and not all of the interventions may be suitable to be implemented.
This paper was presented at the “Biodiversity Forum 2016“, with the theme “Human-Wildlife Conflict Mitigation and Action in the Agricultural Sector” jointly organized by Malaysian Palm Oil Council (MPOC) with Department of Wildlife and National Parks, Peninsular Malaysia (PERHILITAN) in Awana Genting Resort on 23rd – 24th May 2016.
Beyond Conflict Mitigation Better Management Practices by Plantations for Wildlife Conservation
Reviewed by : Anna Norliza Zulkifli