Elephant population research in Riau uses DNA technology

Pekanbaru, Riau (ANTARA News) - The World Wildlife Fund (WWF) is collecting DNA samples from Sumatra elephants` faeces to conduct research in an effort to preserve the pachyderm population in the Tesso Nilo National Park, Riau province, according to WWF Program Riau spokesman Syamsidar.

"The DNA tests will help ensure the exact number of elephants living in Tesso Nilo," he said here on Tuesday.

"Deoxyribonucleic acid is popularly known as DNA, which is the building block of any living organism," Syamsidar added.

He pointed out that there had been no studies conducted so far through which the actual number of elephants in Tesso Nilo could be determined.

"Until now, the population is estimated through samples of elephant droppings," he said, adding that Tesso Nilo had between 120 and 150 elephants.

"The sampling will be done for three months, starting late June," Syamsidar explained. He noted that 25 people from WWF were involved in the process.

WWF Program Riau will conduct the DNA tests in collaboration with a Dutch research organization.

"The research is important because of the high number of elephant deaths in Riau," Syamsidar said.

From January through July this year, 10 Sumatra elephants died from poisoning and most of them were found with their tusks already removed.(*)