November 10, 2015 2:52 pm

Elephants in Indonesia being trained to help fight forest fires

WATCH ABOVE: Elephants and humans work together to help fight forest fires in Indonesia

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Forestry officials in Indonesia are training elephants to help with the management of the local area.

Trained elephants are now able to assist firefighter crews to put out forest fires, and prevent them from igniting.

In the elephant conservation centre of Siak district, as many as 23 elephants have been trained to be ‘forest watchdogs’.

Carrying water pumps, hoses and other equipment, elephants and a team of staff patrol the forests of the national park.

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They navigate around the areas of burnt trees to ensure smoke emerging from beneath the peat-rich land does not reignite.

Riau province has been badly hit by forest fires in recent months, with a total of 820 fires occurring in the past three months, according to forestry officials.

Forestry Ministry officer, Supartono, said his teams were also training the elephants to help resolve conflicts between humans and wild elephants.

He said the trained elephants were able to guide their wild cousins away from settlements where they had ventured, mainly due to the destruction of the elephants’ natural habitat by humans.

According to reports from local media and NGOs, thousands of hectares of wildlife reserve land have been destroyed and turned into palm oil plantations.

© 2015 The Associated Press

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