Elephants suffer as forestry habitat destroyed

The Sumatran elephant, one of the smallest of the Asian elephants, is the most endangered elephant in the world. Currently there are between 2,400 and 2,800 left, making the species "critically endangered", according to Elephant Family.

Raja the elephant has been captured by villagers close to a palm oil plantation in Indonesia
Raja the elephant has been captured by villagers close to a palm oil plantation in Indonesia Credit: Jim Wickens/Ecologist Film Unit

Like all Asian elephants, the Sumatran elephant is threatened by poaching and habitat loss, caused by increasing demand for palm oil: Across Indonesia hundreds of thousands of acres of tropical rainforests and peatlands have been destroyed to make way for plantations.

oil plantation and bare land within the PT Tunggal Perkasa Plantations in Lirik, Indragiri, Hulu, Riau. Credit: Credit: Kemal Jufri / Greenpeace

Environmentalists and scientists say that 65% of Aceh’s forest needs protected to save the Sumatran elephant, and the government's current plan would only allow for 45% to be protected - a difference of way over a million hectares.

Watch: New law could leave Sumatran elephants homeless

More: Ecologist Film Unit

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Elephant deforestation threats

The Sumatran elephant the smallest of the Asian elephants, is critically endangered from illegal logging and habitat loss from huge palm oil plantations. Palm oil is used in hundreds of food and household products in the UK.