sumatra, the land of small(er) elephants
Sumatra is a large island in the Indonesian area known as Sunda Islands. The equator passes through and makes for a very hot and humid climate. There are rainforests, volcanos and swamps. This also means the animal population is very diverse.
In 1889 Sir Winslow set off on another adventure. This time he was interested in learning all he could about the Sumatran Elephant. Although there are elephants found in many places in the world, Sir Winslow had a curiosity to find out all he could about each type.
Upon arriving in the port city of Medan, he secured accommodations for himself and his family at the Hotel de Boer. It was newly built and a very fashionable place to stay. Medan had strong ties with British shipping and was a good place to start his journey from.
The Babura River flows down from the mountains and out into the Malacca Strait. Sir Winslow and his crew followed the river out of the city and into the jungle. The advice of locals was that it was the best place to search for elephants.
Sumatran Elephants are smaller than their African counterparts. They also tend to be more beige than gray. Unlike the African elephant, the top of the head is the highest part of them with their body being lower.
The population was not in any danger of extinction at the time of Sir Winslow’s visit to the island, but has since become endangered due to deforestation and loss of habitat. In some parts of Sumatra where they used to roam freely they are completely gone. Efforts have been made to save them in Elephant Training Centers. These however proved to costly for the government and have been shut down. As recently as 2004, Tesso Nilo National Park has been established to help maintain the population that is left.
Sir Winslow of course made careful notes and detailed drawing of his elephants discoveries. His field journals are on hand at Windy Willows for study and I look over them while creating new animal pillows.