Located in the western part of Indonesia, Sumatra is world's sixth largest island. It is subdivided into seven provinces (North Sumatra, Jambi, Riau, West Sumatra, South Sumatra, Bengkulu, Lampung) and the autonomous province of Aceh.

As one of the most biodiverse places in the world, Sumatra has biologically important forest. It is home to various rare plants and animals. The famous giant flower Rafflesia Arnoldii and some of the world's most critically endangered species can be found here. Unfortunately, Sumatra has lost more than half of its forest cover in the last thirty years due to an increasing global demand for palm oil, rubber and timber. In recent years, Indonesian government, working together with WWF, Frankfurt Zoological Society, Orangtutan Project and other international foundations, has made more efforts to rezone and protect this incredible place where elephant, tiger and orangutan still coexist in the wild.

Tesso Nilo National Park

Located in the Pelalawan Regency in Riau Province, Tesso Nilo was designated as national park by the Indonesian government in 2004 to protect the endangered elephant and Sumatran tiger’s population. Tesso Nilo is the home of about 150 wild elephants, about half of the whole elephant population in Sumatra. It is part of Bukit Tiga Puluh conservation area.

To patrol settlements on the edges of Tesso Nilo National Park and to help local farmers reduce elephant conflict, WWF-Indonesia and the Conservation Authority of Riau established 'the Flying Squad' in 2004. The Tesso Nilo Elephant Flying Squad is a team of four captive elephants and eight handlers (Mahouts).

The mission of the project is to:

  • Reduce damage to communities by pushing wild elephants back into the forest
  • Teach communities how to mitigate conflict
  • Instill a sense of security in the communities to give them confidence that they can protect their farms without killing elephants
  • Monitor illegal activities in the park
  • Provide employment to the community, and decent living conditions to the captived elephants


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