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ERU River Patrol

Patrolling on a small boat to access small remote river branches and swamp areas. Photo: KHS/CSNC

Surveys conducted by the WKNP in collaboration with KHS/CSNC have shown that the northern and north-eastern parts pf the WKNP, which due to limited resources are very poorly monitored and patrolled by WKNP staff. These areas are affected by a lot of illegal activities such as poaching and logging, threatening the integrity of the NP area and its protected wildlife.

In order to address these issues, since September 2019, KHS in collaboration with the WKNP agency and with financial support from IEP has established a new patrol unit named the Elephant Response Unit-River Patrol (ERU-River Patrol) on the northern border of the WKNP.

The major goals of the regular patrol activities are to:

  1. Understand the routes of entry and access of poachers and illegal loggers into the WKNP.
  2. Detect and prevent illegal activities such as any kind of poaching, logging, and encroachment of the WKNP area.
  3. Show the importance of this part of the WKNP by recording and reporting any signs of wildlife encountered during patrols.
  4. Collaborate with local community members to build an intelligence network in order to understand the modus operandi of the local networks of organized groups of poachers and illegal loggers.

In contrast to the four ERU whose major task is the prevention of HEC, the new patrol team primarily focuses on the detection, documentation, and prevention of illegal activities. Therefore this ERU unit does not employ trained elephants but conduct their patrols mainly by boats, on foot, and by motorbike.

Map of the ERU Patrol Track inside the WKNP

The ERU River Patrol team consists of 9 permanent team members, 3 of them are WKNP Forest Police staff, and 6 local community members. Depending on the patrol areas and needs, sometimes team members from the ERU Bungur and Tegal Yoso join forces with them. All Team members have been trained by senior ERU staff and senior NP forest police officers about:

  • Field navigation
  • Data recording and documentation
  • Conservation laws and regulations
  • Trekking and survival skills
  • Law enforcement strategies
  • First aid

Since its establishment the new patrol team has detected, documented, and prevented numerous illegal activities in this area. A network of footpaths and entry points on the river banks of the WKNP used by poachers and illegal loggers were discovered and documented, illegal logs were confiscated and destroyed, numerous different kinds of traps for all kind of wildlife were detected and destroyed, poachers have been chased out of the WKNP or have been arrested, assets from poachers such as boats, bicycles, nets, traps, have been confiscated and destroyed, and several huts and hunting platforms from poachers were detected and destroyed.

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