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Lines Harden in Bali's Elephant War

Bali Legislators Fall in Behind Governor in Refusal of New Elephants Imports to Bali.

(2/27/2010) In a continuing saga, support for the Governor's refusal to allow more elephants on Bali has come from members of Commission I of the Provincial House of Representatives (DPRD) who are preparing to issue a formal recommendation refusing the additional elephants, urging, at the same time, that the Governor also put his rejection of the plan in writing.

[See: Bali's Five Ton Elephant in the Gloom]

As reported in Radar Bali, representatives of the Indonesian Nature Conservancy Agency (BKSDA) were called to the Bali legislature this past week to explain their approval of the plan to allow more elephants onto the island. Istanto, who heads the BKSDA in Bali, failed to show, disappointing Commission members who were hoping to grill him regarding his support of the unpopular plan to increase the elephant population. The Chairman of Commission I of the DPRD, Made Arjaya, said, "actually, we were hoping he'd come, inasmuch as the BKSDA has been a main actor in the matter of the elephants."

Another member of the Commission from the House, Cok Budi Suryawan, also said he was deeply disappointed by Istanto's non-appearance: "The BKSDA should have been here, even if its Chief couldn't attend. He could have been represented; it is not as though only one person works at the Bali BKSDA office."

The commission meeting, which was attended by the law and regulatory division of the provincial government, is nearing approval of a plan to issue a formal refusal of the BKSDA elephant importation plan, waiting only for the approval of the Chairman of the DPRD who is currently out of Bali. "We are unanimous; we are refusing the importation of the elephants to Bali. Tell the Governor that the Commission has refused this plan," said Arjaya.

Arjaya said the Commission supports the Governor in his refusal of the importation of 59 more elephants to Bali, but want him to put his refusal in writing.

Legislators commented that the current population of 93 elephants on Bali was more than sufficient and that tourists seeking to see elephants on an Indonesian holiday should visit South Sumatra, not Bali.