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When Smallholders Face Protected Habitats



When Smallholders Face Protected Habitats

InfoSAWIT, JAKARTA – “Sunar diinjak gajah, tiga tulang iga dan empat tulang punggungnya patah. nafasnya harus pakai alat,” that was the message I got from my father. He is a smallholder, hires three labors to help him cultivating his eight hectare – plantations in Duri, Riau Province. Sunar is one of the labors. As the dangerous animal, the smallholders and the labors in the region do not kill elephants.

As one who hires them, the family is responsible on what the labors got. The hospital predicted that it would spend Rp 30 million to heal Sunar. It is very expensive for a smallholder in 2000.

Luckily the smallholders and the labors have high solidarity. My father told me, Sunar’s friends donated to help him. The fund was about Rp 12 million to his medical treatment. That is the relationship between the owners and the labors or among the labors though not everything is the same.

Talking about elephant, it is not the animal in circus in the Dumbo cartoon film. Elephant is part of the wild. It is in biggest size of human. Never think that it is a slow animal. If elephant gets after something, man could not get away. They have incredible memory to revenge. If one member of the family is killed in one area, the elephant would return and make a mass in other time.  It is the same if facing the tiger. The both are the life struggle.

But the smallholders are aware of not killing the elephants and other wild animals because they are parts of the nature to protect. No smallholders are brave enough to break the rule because they do not face the legal sue. Though it is unpredictable, the elephant could come back, make a mass, and eat what the smallholders have planted. The little palm oil trees are taken out to eat and this is the loss for the smallholders for they have money to one planting only. The smallholders have no other income.

Though the elephants are nosy, the damaged not only the plantations, but also the housing of the smallholders.

The elephants get into the smallholders plantations because the companies’ plantations are restricted by the electricity and have deep canal so that the elephants and wild boar could not pass through. The smallholders should get the impacts because their migration paths were diverted to the agricultural areas having no fence. “We would scare them by firelights, and cable which is tied with bell. When the elephant gets inside, every smallholder would burn the torch and scare the elephant by fire,” Sunar said as quoted from InfoSAWIT Magazine

But the smart animal learns and keeps its memory. They learn from the tactic and not afraid of the heat and fire. It happened to Sunar. He was got after when trying to banish the elephant. Unfortunately he was stuck in swamp and that was the chance for the elephant to step over him. Sunar got lucky for the step ‘only’ smashed his chest in the muddy areas. In general, the steps of elephant could kill the victims tragically. The victim’s face could be unrecognizable anymore. (Hariadhi /The Child of A Smallholder)

This article once published in InfoSAWIT, November 2020

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