Elephants in Bali camp left to starve to death following COVID-19 outbreak: report
After being forced to close due to the coronavirus outbreak, an elephant park, Bali Elephant Camp, has been accused of allowing more than a dozen elephants to starve, according to reports by Al Jazeera. In 2005, the Bali Elephant Camp (BEC) was part of a wildlife conservation effort that saw it house several critically endangered Sumatran elephants to help the population stabilize. The elephants in the parks and zoos come from breeding centers in Sumatra established 30 years ago as part of an effort to stabilize the population. Accredited companies have been allowed to market elephant-back tourism services, which were very successful before the pandemic.
However, in May, a veterinarian Duchess Femke Den Haas revealed to Al Jazeera the story of Bali’s various malnourished elephants. Haas, who has worked in Indonesia for 20 years to protect wildlife, said people aren’t supposed to see their bones because they’re large creatures, but that’s exactly what they were only skin and bones.
“They were nothing more than skin and bones”
Haas visited the camp as a representative of Balai Konservasi Sumber Daya Alam Bali (BKSDA), the government agency responsible for overseeing Sumatran elephant adoption programs in safari parks and zoos. BKSDA chief Agus Budi Santosa said that following the COVID-19 pandemic, several industries in Bali have failed and small businesses like Bali Elephant Camp have been particularly affected, according to Al Jazeera. They were no longer able to finance operational costs, especially the cost of feeding elephants when tourism ceased. The government had no choice but to help them by providing them with food and energy. According to Al Jazeera, neither the forestry department nor the BKSDA had offered financial assistance for the elephants.
Poaching for ivory, human-elephant conflict and deforestation have likely reduced the number of Sumatran elephants in the wild to just 2,400, according to a 2007 report from the World Wide Fund for Nature. 67% of the available Sumatran elephant habitat was destroyed between 1980 and 2005, the equivalent of just one and a half generations of elephants. The species was declared Critically Endangered in the wild in 2012.