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  PlanetArk 30 Aug 07
Indonesia Seeks Plan to Save Rare Tigers, Elephants

JAKARTA - More than 100 experts and officials met in Indonesia on Wednesday to try to draft an action plan to save Sumatran elephants and tigers threatened with extinction.

Satellite images show large areas of lowland tropical forests, the primary habitat for elephants and tigers, have been cleared on Sumatra island mainly due to farming and logging, the WWF conservation group said.

Between 1990 and 2000, a total of 8 million hectares (20 million acres) of lowland forests have been lost to development, the group said. Shrinking habitats have led to conflicts with humans, resulting in the deaths of 42 people and 100 elephants between 2002 and 2007, said the group.

"Immediate action is needed to save threatened tigers and elephants and increasing conflicts between people and the animals," WWF Indonesia spokeswoman Desmarita Murni said.

The three-day meeting in the Sumatran city of Padang, attended by about 120 local and international delegates, is aimed at developing a conservation strategy and action plan to save the species, said Murni.

Officials from various government ministries were attending, as well as representatives from companies and communities affected by human-wildlife conflicts, she said.

WWF said Sumatran elephants in Indonesia had declined approximately 35 percent over the past 15 years, from 2,800-5,000 in 1992 to 2,400-2,800 animals in 2007.

Today, there are no more than 400 Sumatran tigers left in the wild, while Indonesia's Bali and Javan tigers are already extinct, it said.

"Saving the populations of Sumatran tigers and elephants will strongly depend on saving their remaining forest habitat," said Elisabet Purastuti, coordinator of elephant conservation for WWF-Indonesia.

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