The Elephants of Sumatra – the Final Stand documents the last remaining elephants within Sumatra and their fight for survival currently on the critically endangered species list.
Initially I came to Sumatra to document the efforts to save the life of Bona the orphan baby elephant in Bengkulu Sumatra but I soon got swept up and became part of the story. I spent 7 months single handedly hand raising baby Bona to the point where she did not need milk anymore. I fed her day and night 4 times per day form being woken up at 5am to midnight when she would wander into camp looking for her final feed for the day.
I have designed and designed again and again trying to decide what best depicts the underlying story of the final stand for the elephants of Sumatra. In the end I have decided on one of favourite shots while following the elephant patrols throughout the jungles of Sumatra.
Since successfully hand raising Bona I realised the enormity of the situation that the elephants of Sumatra face. Bona’s situation came about when her family (herd) were all poisoned, all seven adult elephants including her mother. I soon realised the bigger picture and what was initially a short trip has turned into a life changing event and ongoing project.
I have now been residing in Sumatra for over 3 years documenting the last remaining elephant of Sumatra throughout the island, from wild elephants to captive in the government run camps around Sumatra. In the time I married my indonesian wife and have settled into a new life in Sumatra focusing my photography on trying to create awareness and funding to make a difference to the lives of the last remaining elephants.
During the last 3 and a half years I have committed everything to documenting the amazing work that a small number of dedicated NGO’s do to help the plight of the elephants and in that time have also created our own local NGO named Berdiri (Stand) with my new Indonesian family.
The book – Elephants of Sumatra the Final Stand is a collection of photos, stories and information gathered from my time documenting the elephants within Sumatra, with over 30,000 photos collected over 3 years the book will be a collection of 100 pages of the best photos from conservation project work, the orphan elephants, documenting the lives of individual elephants and the issues surrounding their survival.
There are many issues facing the elephants of Sumatra and their survival. The is also covered in the book and some of the solutions that are currently being implemented. Also covered are the many ways in which you yourself can help even from the very seat that you sit in around the other side of the world. There are ways in which we can all help and if we al do a little bit then that can add up to be quite a lot.
The Elephant Camps
Throughout the provinces of Sumatra reside government run elephant camps that are created by the government of Indonesia to take care of those individuals that are captured due to human / elephant conflict. The elephants that are held in these camps are “domesticated” and are used for various tasks, the most important being that of further conservation efforts to help conserve their very own species.
The elephants inside these camps are assigned two mahouts (elephant carers) that rotate their duties more or less every two weeks. Some mahouts live as far as 8 hours motorbike ride so stay in the camps for the 2 week period.
There are only 1500 elephants left in the wild on the island of Sumatra. Every month new human / elephant conflicts occur resulting in more elephant deaths.
Due to conversion of forests into human settlements and agricultural areas, many of the Sumatran elephant populations have lost their habitat to humans.
65% of deaths for the Sumatran elephants are caused by humans.
50% of elephant deaths caused by humans are due to poisoning the elephants when they enter crops.
50% of the Sumatran elephant deaths caused by humans are for poaching the tusks.