Firefighting Elephants Help Battle Blazes in Indonesia

Kirstin Fawcett
iStock / iStock

An unlikely cadre of animal firefighters are helping to save Indonesia's jungles.

For the past few months, the country’s Riau province in East Sumatra has been thick with smoke from forest fires and land clearing. Thanks to a rain shortage—and the forest’s peat-rich land—locals haven’t been able to completely suppress the conflagrations.

However, officials have thought of an ingenious way to fight the flames: elephants. According to the Associated Press, 23 trained elephants from the Siak district’s elephant conservation center have been fitted with water pumps, hoses, and other firefighting equipment. The animals were originally trained to drive wild elephants out of human settlements and back into their natural environments, or to find illegal squatters in the forest. Now, they patrol wooded areas, making sure that extinguished fires don’t blaze back to life.

Pachyderms may not be the most conventional firefighters, but they’re certainly an ingenious way to help preserve the country's remaining forests and plantation land. And considering that 4.2 million acres have been scorched by fires throughout Sumatra and Borneo, Indonesia could use all the extra hands—and trunks—it can get.

[h/t Associated Press]