Rizal Harahap, Pekanbaru – A 5-year-old male elephant was wounded in Bengkalis regency of Riau after stepping into a trap.
Riau Natural Resources Conservation Agency Center (BKSDA) spokesperson Dian Indriati said the agency had yet to find where exactly the trap had been set up.
"We learned about the incident after an employee of PT Arara Abadi spotted the elephant, as well as 30 other elephants of the same herd, walking around the company's concession area on Jan. 21," Dian said.
A joint team comprising of staff and volunteers of the BBKSDA Riau, the Tesso Nilo National Park Foundation, the Leuser Conservation Forum as well as other wildlife protection organizations went to the location where the injured elephant was last seen following the employee's report.
After tailing and observing the elephant herd for days, they finally found the injured elephant on Sunday.
"We shot him with a tranquilizer dart at 5:45 p.m. after he was separated from his herd," Dian said.
After the elephant fell unconscious, the team extracted the nylon trap quickly to treat his injured right foot.
"We finished treating his injury at 8:45 p.m," she said, adding that the team released the elephant at the same location where he had been found.
"His herd members were around when we treated his injury. He rejoined them after he awoke," Dian added.
According to the conservation agency, hunters and local residents often set up traps to catch wild animals, which many locals consider pests.
In a bid to curb illegal hunting and protect wildlife, BKSDA Riau personnel dismantled 170 traps in November last year set up around conservation areas in the province.
Prior to the operation, at least 11 wild animals – including four elephants, three Sumatran tigers, two bears and two tapirs – were killed or injured by the traps set up at several wildlife reserves, including Giam Siak Kecil, Kerumutan and Zamrud National Park, according to the agency's data. (dpk)