A photo taken last year by conservation project leader Claire Oelrichs at the Way Kambas National Park.
A photo taken last year by conservation project leader Claire Oelrichs at the Way Kambas National Park. Taken by Claire Oelrichs at Way

Local students fundraise to save Sumatran elephants

A GROUP of Southern Cross University students will set off for Sumatra in June to help rehabilitate elephants and their habitats.

The 20 students each received $3000 under the New Colombo Plan to pay for their travel expenses and personal living costs, and they are now fundraising to complete their action project.

Anna-Lee Mason, who is studying environmental science, is one of the students involved.

"We're all hoping to raise a minimum of $1000 each, and that will give us a basic amount to go over there and provide food, water and improved medication for the elephants," Ms Mason said.

"A lot of elephants are tied up in this sanctuary all day long without access to proper clean water and food.

"We need to raise money to build wells, watering stations and replant all their natural corridors.

"There's the clearing of the forests for palm oil so the whole area has pretty much been desecrated as a result.

"There's a conflict between elephants and villages because the elephants enter farmlands to find food."

With their raised money, the students hope to hold workshops with the local community to review their strategies for keeping elephants within the park, paint elephant safety signs, conduct freshwater turtle surveys, conduct safety checks and more.

Ms Mason said she has always been passionate about the environment and conservation projects.

"I want to be an advocate for animals, and indigenous people who are under-privileged ... I'm passionate about the environment, which is why I study environmental science," she said.

Visit Ms Mason's fundraising page for more information about the project or to donate.

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