Bengkulu (ANTARA News) - The Forestry Ministry has not yet approved a proposal to raise the status of the Seblat limited production forest (HPT) which also functions as an elephant training center (PLG) to that of a natural tourism park for Sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus).

"We have already proposed the status raise to the Forestry Ministry but it has yet to be approved," said head of Bengkulu`s Natural Resources Conservation Agency (BKSDA), Amon Zamora, on Friday.

The raised status was important to protect and salvage Sumatran elephants because the animals were threatened by extinction.

According to him, BKSDA has also proposed for increasing the extensive of its areas from 6,600 hectares to become more than 15 thousand hectares including the Lebong Kandis HPT inside the area.

The Lebong Kalis HPT is also included in the forest corridor which is connected Seblat HPT to Kerinci`s Seblat National Park (TNKS). "Without forest corridor included in the extension areas, the elephants will be isolated because some of the location has been illegally encroached," he said.

"This illegal activity has increased the conflict between humans and the elephants," he pointed out, adding that the conflict has been recorded as many as 21 cases in 2009, without any victims.

Zamora added that the illegal activities will also threaten the elephants to extinction. "With the improvement status of the areas, we hope it will maximize the supervision and of course to preserve the elephants," he added.

"Based on a research to Sumatran`s rhinoceros (Dicerorhinus sumatrensis) which is never seen again in the forest, and we don?t want it happen to the elephants," he said, adding that he hoped for the Forestry Ministry will approve the proposal.

There are only 18 elephants trained by BKSDA, and about 80 elephants around the areas.(*)

Editor: Jafar M Sidik
Copyright © ANTARA 2011