An adorable, 90 kilo (198 pound) baby elephant was born earlier this month in Indonesia. According to the World Wildlife Fund, the little tyke arrived on Aug.9 in the Tesso Nilo National Park. Mom, a 35 year old Sumatran elephant gave birth after a 20 to 22 month pregnancy and mother and baby are doing well.
The Sumatran elephants are an endangered species. The mother is a member of an elite team called the Flying Squad. The team consists of 4 trained adult elephants and their 8 handlers. Together the group protects villages from wild elephants that might enter the village and cause damage or injuries.
The group was established in 2004 and since that time, only 4 babies have been born into the group. The handlers, known as mahouts, use noisemakers, lights and a truck to keep the wild elephants at bay.
In the Riau Province, rapid deforestation has resulted from the growth of the region’s palm oil, pulp and paper industries. Wild elephants, now hungry, leave the remaining forests in search of food and inevitably collide with villages and destroy food crops. Four squads of these trained elephants are at work in the region.
The program helps reduce conflict between villagers and the hungry elephants while preserving safety for both groups. By reducing the number of elephant-human conflicts, the number of needless deaths on both sides of the equation can be reduced. It has shown that humans and elephants can find a way to live side by side.
As for the new arrival, there is no way to know if the baby will join the Flying Squad later on. For now, the little guy is doing his best just to keep up with mom.