Jumar is no stranger to the presence of elephants. Having lived and farmed in the village of Pematang Pudu village in Bengkalis district, in Indonesia’s Riau province, for more than 20 years, he’s seen elephants wandering through his village and fields of sweet potato. And he has never become upset with the animals. He says he has seen people throw things at the elephants, and even shoot at them when they catch one eating crops — but he doesn’t recommend it. “People who mistreat them get their houses destroyed,” Jumar says. “It’s like with people, you can’t mistreat them. They get angry and they crush nearby houses.” Jumar says he has often had to escort the elephants back into the forest over the years, using a flashlight to point the way, but these encounters have grown less frequent in recent years. “How come we have so few elephants now?” Jumar asks. “Where did they go? I have no idea.” Sumatran elephants inside a cultivated area in Balai Raja. Established as a wildlife reserve in 1986, the area now has less than 200 hectares of intact forest. Image by Walhyudi/Mongabay Indonesia. Bengkalis is home to Balai Raja Wildlife Reserve, best described currently as rapidly shrinking patches of forest surrounded by oil palm plantations and the Rokan oil and natural gas fields managed by Chevron. The reserve was established in 1986, originally spanning 18,000-hectare (44,500-acre), and in 1992 designated as a conservation area for the critically endangered Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatranus).…This article was originally published on Mongabay Läs mer