Work Begins

This month we started on the pre requirements for the proposed electric fence we plan on building during march.

The first step in providing a safe and healthy environment for the conservation center elephants in Seblat, North Bengkulu, Sumatra is to make sure there is a good food supply. The first step is to repair the fencing for the 2 hectare lot that was once a flourishing plantation of king grass of which the mahouts would readily cut klumps for overnight food for the elephants. Sadly the fence is in disrepair, which allows the wild pigs to get in and feed on crops and nothing much remains.

This will soon become the main food source to provide the elephants when they settle inside their home each night. Once all the holes are discovered and patched new crops will go in and soon flourish. Time to get to work…

Read more

New MoU in Place

To support our elephant conservation efforts head to the official Berdiri website

This month is a landmark for us here at Berdiri. We have signed a new 3 year MoU with the local conservation agency (BKSDA) here in Bengkulu to continue on the much needed conservation efforts for the critically endangered Sumatran elephants. The next three years will entail a few projects. First and our focus for now is to implement an electric fence for the camp elephants of PLG Seblat so they can be chain free, free to roam and socialize and to encourage the opportunity to breed.

This is the beginning of a long term plan and there will be many small, medium and large projects to aid in the conservation of the critically endangered elephants here is Sumatra.

A big thank you to those that have stuck by awaiting to make this happen. Especially the amazing conservation team of Tulsa Zoo.

Read more

EoS Book Excerpt (Elephants of Sumatra) – The Projects

Below is a sample extract from the up coming Elephants of Sumatra – The Final Stand documentary photography book being published in support of the critically endangered sumatran elephants and the various projects we have, projects we support directly in the field or indirectly by other means. The final product will be a 100 page photography documentary book created by Berdiri Founder Bruce Levick based on the back of 3 years in the field documenting  the dire situation being faced by the last remaining ELEPHANTS OF SUMATRA. The extract below is from a chapter named “The Projects”, which documents the work being carried out by various NGO’s to help conserve this amazing species. The book will be available for pre-order soon.

“Sumatra may be only one island of many thousands within the archipelago of Indonesia but the diversity of the wildlife within is second to none. With many unique species fighting for small pockets of remaining habitat on the island of Sumatra with most of these species listed as endangered or critically endangered, the elephants of Sumatra being one of those listed as critically endangered with an estimated figure of 1000-1500 left in the wild.
The main threats to the Elephants of Sumatra is habitat destruction and poaching for the ivory trade. For the most part it is the habitat destruction that is causing so many problems for the remainder of the species. As the habitat reduces the elephants are constantly on the move looking for new areas that are suitable for their herd and this causes the elephants to enter into nearby villages causing issues for the local farmers and community that come into conflict with the elephants. Thus usually ending in capture or death for the elephants. A lot of cases see elephant herds poisoned as they enter into oil palm crops where farmers have left out fruit laced with poison…” 

Read more

RIP Yongki

Jakarta. Authorities in Indonesia have launched a formal investigation into the death of an iconic Sumatran elephant at a national park who was believed to have been killed by poachers for his tusks.

Environment and Forestry Minister Siti Nurbaya Bakar said in Jakarta on Wednesday that she had ordered a coordinated probe into the death of the popular bull elephant, affectionately known as Yongki, saying, “our task is to find out every suspect who was involved in this devastating death.”

More at Jakarta Globe >

yongki copy

Read more

Elephant Response Unit – Way Kambas

Last week we took a field trip to the Way Kambas National Park in South Sumatra to present some new technologies to the current existing Elephant Response Units working around the borders of the Way Kambas National Park. The ERU (Elephant Response Units) work the borders of the National Park to mitigate HEC (Human Elephant Conflict) and also patrol for illegal activity.


Presenting and testing the drone in the Way Kambas National Park.


Presenting and testing the drone in the Way Kambas National Park.


photo of the southern camp of Way Kambas taken during our drone tests

We have presented an opportunity for the ERU teams to utilise drone technology along with infrared cameras to help search the surrounding areas for potential wild herds on the move towards neighbouring villages to better prevent future HEC.


The elephant patrols in action


The elephant patrols in action

The proposal for the use of drone technology can also be used to assist in the search for potential illegal activity within the national park such as poachers and illegal loggers.

lampung - way kambas-291-Edit

Bath time before patrol

lampung - way kambas-206-Edit

Morning bath time before heading out for patrol

lampung - way kambas-78

Cooking up supplements for the patrol elephants

lampung - way kambas-43

Preparing the supplements for the patrol elephants


Drone view of the ERU team camp


Drone demonstration for the ERU team

Read more

Kenya Unites for Elephants and Rhinos

On 4 October, over 130 countries joined a global march to protect elephants and rhinos
referred to as the Global March for Elephants and Rhinos (GMFER). This widely participated
global march coincided with the World Animal Day.

In Nairobi, more than 1,000 people trekked a 10 kilometres route passing the downtown
traffic and hooting cars in response to signs held by marchers that read “Hoot To Support The

This global initiative started in Kenya on January 2013 in response to eleven elephants killed
and hacked off their tusks, the latest large slaughter of the animals to be reported amid
insatiable global demand for ivory in Tsavo Conservancy Centre, in the southeastern part of
Kenya, according to a CNN report.

As a wildlife enthusiast and a foreigner in Kenya, I found myself in awe bumping into well
known campaigners for elephants and rhinos; one of which is Dr. Paula Kahumbu, CEO of
Wildlife Direct and the initiator of “Hands Off Our Elephants” campaign. Dr. Kahumbu said
that “it is all our responsibility to stop the demand for elephant ivory and rhino horn” from
consuming countries such as China and Vietnam. Her organization is currently partnering
with tour companies and airlines to put an end to poaching banking on the New Wildlife
Conservation Act that imposes life inprisonement for poaching in Kenya.

chinese youth fights for elies

chinese youth fights for elies

Juliani, a well-known singer in Kenya who is also a staunch advocate for elephants and
rhinos said that these animals should be protected because it is “our heritage and part of our
(Kenyan) culture. . . are our (Kenyan) pride in general”.

Peter Moll, a young founder of a youth NGO called “Stand Up Shout Out” said in a speech
during the march that “when Kenya loses its elephants and rhinos, most Kenyans will then be
out of jobs” highlighting the symbiotic relationship between wildlife, tourism and jobs. Kenya
is reeling from a very high unemployment rate among its youth.

A reformed poacher challenged everyone to treat elephants like they are part of us; “let’s take
care of them”; while, the US ambassador to Kenya, Robert Godec pledged to commit resources
to take care of Africa’s elephants and rhinos.

kids fight for elies

kids fight for elies

Many around the world marched for a good cause towards helping rhinos and elephants
on that Saturday. Now that the march is over, what’s the next ? Yes, there are lots of NGOs
pledging their wholesome intention through their vision and mission statements and lots of
international talks have been held at the United Nations level, all in the name of preventing
elephants and rhinos extinction.

There are still ivory shops in China, both legal and lllegal which make lucrative profit from
tusks that are priced at around USD 1,600 each.

According to reports, Kenya currently sits at number one spot in ivory trade. Ivory is
reportedly being used by the Somali terrorist group, al-Shabaab, responsible for September
2013’s terror at Westgate Mall in Nairobi that killed 67 people, to be exported to China to
buy firearms hence making this situation not only a concern in the grim future of elephant
population, but also of global security.

What are we doing as world citizens to stop this from happening? Ideally we don’t want to
see elephant orphanages or elephant conservation centres receiving orphans because their
mothers were killed by poachers (as baby elephants can suffer from such trauma) for their
tusks in Africa or because of habitat loss from corporations wanting more lands to develop
palm plantations in Indonesia.

kenya fights for elies

kenya fights for elies

Tonnes of tusks, horns and ivories are burned to hype governmental actions against ivory
trade in supplying and demanding countries. But what do these actions mean to the elephant
and rhino population? Nothing, it only means that more of them have been killed. The demand
for ivory in China and other southeast Asian countries are fueling the rampant killings of these
species in Africa.

The unsustainable practice of corporations that produce palm oil in Indonesia gives birth to
orphans in Aceh; the use of elephants for human entertainment in Asia, treats elephants as
commodities, demeaning their importance in the ecology.

Questions surrounding “what to do” shall remain, marches and protests will still occur,
reports on the number of elephants or rhinos killed will still be on news , hashtags like
#SaveElephants, #SaveRhinos will still trend on social medias. Whilst it is okay for these to
still remain, many of us from now on should pick ourselves up and act. After all, we don’t want
to live in a world where our children and our children’s children can only read: “Elephants
and rhinos once roamed the Earth.”

As a writer, an observer and a participant of last Saturday’s global march, I realised that
writing one article is not enough to help. There will surely be more articles to come, this is a
part of the fight against extinction.


Read more

Help is Definitely Needed

This is a very interesting article and a new perspective on the conservation initiatives in Malaysia and Indonesia. Showing that the government are throwing out impossible statistics when I myself see first hand the loss of critically endangered wildlife every month and know just as well as Erik Meijaard that these statistics are just not true (impossible). As I write this the haze of smoke covers south Sumatra from the illegal forest fires burning off forests for new crops leaving the critically endangered wildlife with nowhere to go but in conflict with the locals and eventually death for the animals.
The resonating factor in this article is the conservation efforts truly need an overhaul if any kind of success to prolong the dynamic species of Indonesia is to be fruitful.

a culture that doesn’t (yet) sufficiently value wildlife

Read more >

Read more

New Deaths of Sumatran Elephants in Riau

It’s been a tragic week for the Sumatran elephant with 7 new deaths recorded in the Riau province of Sumatra near the Tesso Nilo National park. Poisoning is suspected and is becoming more and more common as elephants are forced to enter village areas when their habitat is continuously being destroyed to make way for crop land, majority being for palm oil. Villagers tend to take action on their own and poison the elephants to stop the destruction of food crops that the elephants eat. So the question being asked, “Is palm oil killing elephants?”, the answer is a most definite yes and more than anything else combined.


Illegally burning and clearing forests the vital habitat is causing more and more elephant conflicts throughout Sumatra.

Read more

New Conservation Tool

A new tool is becoming a key aspect to fighting for crucial habitat that remains for the critically endangered wildlife. Satellite monitoring is keeping up the fight for the habitat of endangered animals, going one step further than that of google maps. Where remotely areas within google maps are normally pixelated the satellite monitoring program takes high res images and can identify people and the types of trees in remote areas. No longer can illegal loggers and miners hide their dirty work, this is great news for the future of vital habitats around the world. Read the full article…

Read more

Historical Ruling in Palm Oil Case

It seems an inkling of common decency has found it’s way through Indonesian law. It’s not often a law is upheld and then enforced as in this new case. It’s a welcome change and it turns out there is a small ray of hope for the wildlife and the habitats that remain throughout Sumatra. Report below.


An Indonesian court has ordered a palm oil company to pay almost $30 million to the state for illegally clearing peatland in a “historic” ruling, lawyers said Thursday.

The Meulaboh district court on Sumatra island ruled late Wednesday that Indonesian company Kallista Alam had illegally burnt vegetation on 1,000 hectares (2,500 acres) of peatland in Aceh province to clear it for a palm oil plantation. Read the full report…

Read more