People’s perceptions of elephant conservation and the human-elephant conflict in Aceh Jaya, Sumatra, Indonesia
Human-elephant conflict (HEC) poses a major threat to elephants in many parts of Asia, including Indonesia. This paper presents data from a case study on HEC in Aceh, Sumatra, Indonesia. The area consists of a mosaic of settlements, agriculture, and forested areas that are used both by elephants and humans. Questionnaire survey data were used to examine villagers “attitudes towards elephant conservation”, “forest protection”, and “wildlife authorities”. While 36% of the respondents expressed a positive attitude and accepted the need to protect elephants, a majority of the respondents (64%) indicated that they would not support conservation where crop damage by wildlife, particularly elephants, was threatening livelihoods. Nevertheless, 86% of respondents had a positive view of protected forests, either for personal benefits such as hunting and collection of non-timber forest produce or to act as wildlife refuges. Although the wildlife management authorities respond to crop raiding incidences by elephants, which had some positive influence on perceptions of people towards the authorities, overall the majority of respondents (83%) perceived the wildlife authorities negatively and claimed that they did not provide support when crop raiding took place. The main factors identified as reasons for the observed conservation attitudes were proximity to forest boundary, occupation, and education level. Further education and conservation awareness programs, and conflict mitigation should become a priority to gain local communities’ support for conservation and change people’s attitudes towards elephant conservation so they can share resources with elephants, where possible.
KeywordsHuman-elephant conflict Interview People’s attitudes Aceh Indonesia
We thank the Ministry of Research, Technology and Higher Education (RISTEKDIKTI) for providing research permits. Syiah Kuala University, Banda Aceh, provided logistic support to conduct the study. We thank the local people who gave up their valuable time in answering the questions and provided an insight into their livelihoods and the difficulties they face. We are grateful to student assistants who assisted the authors with translation. Heidi Riddle and two anonymous reviewers provided useful comments on the manuscript. We also thank the editor and Associate-editor for useful comments on the manuscript.
This study was made possible with the funds provided by International Elephant Foundation and Elephant Research Foundation M. Philip Kahl Postdoctoral Fellowship, USA, Rufford Small Grants, UK, and International Elephant Project, Australia, to Gaius Wilson.
Compliance with ethical standards
Conflict of interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
Statement of human rights
For this type of study, formal consent is not required.
Statement on the welfare of animals
This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors. The authors declare that during the surveys, elephants were not followed and therefore were not disturbed in any manner.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study by the authors before conducting the surveys, and all respondent information has been protected to ensure that human rights were not infringed.
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