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Non - invasive genotyping of Sumatran elephants: implications for conservation

Penulis: Alexander Markus Moßbrucker, Isabella Apriyana, Jörns Fickel, Muhammad Ali Imron, Satyawan Pudyatmoko, Sumardi, Helena Suryadi
Jurnal: Tropical Conservation Science


Reliable baseline information necessary for the monitoring and conservation of Sumatran elephants is scarce. We here combine non invasive molecular genetics methods and capture recapture modeling to estimate elephant population size, distribution, sex ratio, and age structure for the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape in Sumatra, Indonesia. Two separate subpopulations were found, for which we estimated a population size of 99 (95% CI = [86, 125], PCCL = 38.59%) and 44 elephants (95% CI = [37, 56], PCCL = 43.18%), respectively. Low elephant densities are likely the result of patchy habitat usage and anthropogenically increased mortality, the latter assumption being supported by strong skews in both sex ratio and age structure as well as direct evidence of elephant killing. Still, the Bukit Tigapuluh landscape currently holds the largest known population of elephants in central Sumatra, representing one of the most important areas for their conservation in Indonesia. Conservation of both the elephant population and their habitat in this region should thus be of high priority. We identified several threats to the population, including (i) the risk of inbreeding and subsequent loss of genetic diversity, (ii) illegal elephant killing, and (iii) the lack of protected habitat In order to overcome these challenges we suggest: (i) the implementation of a meta population management program, (ii) monitoring and safeguarding elephants and improving law enforcement, and (iii) providing sufficient safe habitat to mitigate human elephant conflict (HEC) and ensure elephant survival.


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