protecting people, pachyderms and the environment

With the natural habitat of wild elephants on the island of Sumatra shrinking, the animals for years have been searching elsewhere for food and water – including our Duri oil field. Aligning with our commitment to protecting people and the environment in the communities where we live and work, Chevron Pacific Indonesia (CPI) has teamed with the world's leading wildlife conservation organization to keep our colleagues and the pachyderms safe.

"Just recently, a herd of 25 elephants came into close contact with where our work force lives at Duri," said Safriza Rafi, team leader for building maintenance at Duri, who added that the elephants arrive at the field every three or four months. "They roamed the Talang, Leuser, Krakatau, and Dempo housing complexes and left the camp peacefully after getting enough food."

An elephant roams Duri field.

Chevron has partnered with the World Wide Fund for Nature – Indonesia to help achieve a sustainable balance between the elephants and our colleagues at Duri Field.

Because the elephants' presence is such a common occurrence at Duri, CPI has partnered with the World Wide Fund for Nature – Indonesia (WWF), an organization that collaborates with local communities, industry and governments to achieve a sustainable balance between nature and people. During the herd's most recent visit, the Chevron team closely monitored the elephants' movements and educated employees on how to stay safe and avoid injury, such as staying calm, moving to higher ground and paying close attention to the elephants' ears (flapping signals the animals are relaxed; upright ears mean agitation).

According to the WWF, the pulp and paper industry, oil palm expansion and coffee cultivation are encroaching on the last remaining habitats for Sumatra's elephants. As forest is cleared for agricultural use, elephants are forced to wander in search of food. To help, the WWF has trained four elephants and eight people to form a "flying squad" that drives wild elephants toward forests that can support them. Also, CPI is planting sugar cane, jackfruit and banana trees at the border of its Talang conservation forest so the elephants won't have to forage for food in the camp.

"Forest conversion is the root cause of the conflict between people and animals, whether it is elephants raiding fields or tigers attacking livestock," said Nazir Foead, director of the WWF-Indonesia's Species Program.

The Balai Raja Duri Wildlife Sanctuary, an elephant relocation area, is an all-too-real example for what is happening in Riau, Foead said. Forest cover of the sanctuary was about 16,000 hectares (39,537 acres) when it was declared in 1986. Today only 225 hectares (556 acres) remain, all in CPI's Talang conservation forest. Forest conversion also has led plantation managers and villagers to poach the animals — Riau's elephant population has been reduced from about 700 to less than 350 in the last 10 years.

"If you think about it, we're the visitors in the elephants' home," said Dwi-Edi Sumarna, CPI's manager of Wellwork and Completions and former Operational Excellence/Health, Environment and Safety manager. "By partnering with the World Wildlife Foundation and managing the Talang conservation forest we are living The Chevron Way — learning to coexist in a sustainable way with the elephants and staying safe."

Updated: September 2010

Published: September 2010