The wild forests of Indonesia are being converted for palm oil and pulp paper at an unprecedented and unsustainable rate.
Deforestation and the accompanying habitat shrinkage have led to major conflict with elephants. Elephants raid food crops, destroy rubber, palm oil and coconut plantations and even more seriously, are increasingly responsible for the destruction of villages and a number of human deaths.
The response of the Indonesian government to these growing problems has been highly unusual. Originally it was proposed to cull the problem elephants by shooting. However, an outcry from the international and domestic public led these plans to be shelved. Instead, the authorities have been capturing and either relocating or domesticating wild elephants. Most of the elephants are being held in "Elephant Conservation Centres", but these are filled beyond capacity and are overcrowded.
The current situation and future for Sumatra's elephants is bleak. The island has undergone rapid change in the last 25 years and this has had a catastrophic effect on the habitat of the wild elephant. Human elephant conflict is a major issue. The flawed policy of capturing and domesticating elephants also appears to have failed.