Six special crossing paths for elephants are to be built along the Pekanbaru-Dumai toll road project, in a bid to protect the elephants’ habitat.
"There will be six crossing paths. One in Tekuana River, and five others in section 4 near the Balai Raja Wildlife Reserve," an official of PT Hutama Karya (Persero) for the Pekanbaru-Dumai project section 3-4 Dinny Suryakencana said here on Monday.
The 131.48-kilometer long toll road is part of the Trans Sumatra Toll project, which has been designated as one of the national strategic programs.
The Public Works and Public Housing Ministry has routed the toll road to not pass near the protected forest, but it could not avoid passing through the elephants' home range, Suryakencana said.
The first path in Tekuana River would be in section 2 of the road, not far from the Minas Elephant Training Center in Siak District, a home for 13 wild Sumatran elephants. Five other routes are located in section 4 of the toll road project.
The crossing path would be a channel 4.5 to 11 meters in height and 25-45 meters in width that passes below the toll road. Workers will also grow some plants in the channel for the elephants.
Suryakencana disclosed that some construction workers have seen wild elephants and their trails at the location where the crossing path is to be built.
"This path is being prepared for elephants, and is not like other roads in the village, as we will maintain its natural contour," he said.
Meanwhile, head of Riau Natural Conservation Agency Suharyono said there are eight potential meeting points of the toll road and the elephants' home range around its enclave in Balai Raja Wildlife Reserves in Bengkalis District and Giam Siak Kecil.
The Balai Raja Wildlife Reserves includes six elephants, while in Giam Siak Kecil the agency has recorded some 50 to 60 wild elephants.
"The closest range between the toll road and the wildlife reserves is 65 meters, with six elephants staying in the reserves and 42 elephants moved regularly from Balai Raja to Giam Siak Kecil," he said.