EARTH DAY: Can Sumatran elephants and people coexist?

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Present day South Sumatra looks a lot different from its heyday as seat of the powerful Srivijaya Dynasty – the first unified kingdom to dominate much of the Indonesian archipelago. Lasting from the 7th to the 12th century, the jungle was thick and loaded with the sounds and stomps of giants, the Sumatran elephants (Elephas maximus sumatranus). A vital asset to the Srivijaya reign, tens of thousands of “war elephants” accompanied kings and soldiers into battle to prove the might and wealth of the dynasty. The story is different today. Listed as “critically endangered” by the IUCN, there are less then 3000 Sumatran elephants left in the wild. Habitat fragmentation and increasing human population are the main threats the elephants face.

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