Tesso Nilo

Tesso Nilo National Park (Taman Nasional Tesso Nilo) is located in the Riau province of Sumatera, Indonesia, close to Pakanbaru. It was declared a national park by the Indonesian Government in 2004. It cover an area of 38.576 hectares.  Tesso Nilo National Park houses some of the largest koherent lowland rainforest remaining on Sumatera. The center of Biodiversity Management has surveyed over 1.800 plots in tropical forests around the world. They found that no other plot has as many vascular plants as in Tesso Nilo. Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI) surveyed forests throughout Sumatera, and also found that Tesso Nilo housed by far the most species.

Tesso Nilo National Park contains Sumatera Tigers and Sumatera Elephants which are greatly endangered by the Palm Oil Industry encroaching on the forested areas. It also have Macaque Monkeys, Barking Deer, Cobra Snakes and Crocodiles. There also an isolated tribe of people "Orang Rimba" who live within the park. The WWF (World Wildlife Fund) estimate that the Riau province has lost around 65 % of it's forests over the last 25 years mainly for agriculture as well as for paper and lucrative Palm Oil plantations.

Currently, there is no tourist infrastructure to support visitors to the National Park for accommodation or trekking.

The local villages around Tesso Nilo National Park are patrolled by the Tesso Nilo Elephant Flying Squad, a team of 4 trained elephants, along with their rangers, who patrol the area to stop the wild elephants (Gajah liar) from encroaching on these villages looking for food. They use noise and light making device to try to scare the wild elephants away from the villages. If this doesn't work, the 4 training elephants are put into formation to confront the wild elephants. For the last year ther have been no deaths due to wild elephants, a common occurrence in past years.

The Tesso Nilo Elephant Flying Squad do random on Tuesdays and Saturdays though they are on call 24 hours a day.

The park suffers heavy encroachment from illegal loggers and illegal settlers who clear the park for crops and palm oil plantations, as well as village sites. Alreadi 28.600 hectares, or about a third of the park, has been deforested. Even when the park was being established, wood was delivered illegally to Indah Kiat paper mill. The paper industry firm that owns the paper mill received millions of US$ from European credit agencies, including the German Hermes.

In November 2009, WWF announced that the park had been finally been expanded by 44.492 hectares, but encroachment still remains a serious problem. During drought periods, the forest is susceptible to wildfires.

In the October 2006 fires, 1 km2 of the park was burnt. According to 2009 WWF survey, the population of Sumatran Elephants had reached 200 in the park, and around 350 elephans in Riau province.

The Belgian government committed to provide 200.000 euros in assistance for the construction of a Sumatran Elephant Conservation Centre in the Tesso Nilo National park, with the first quarter to be disbursed in 2011. The project will fund the relocation of dozens of tame elephants from Minas in Siak district to Tesso Nilo. The relocation was justified by the loss of habitat in Minas due to oil palm plantations and oil mining.

In 2012, the elephant population in the park is estimated 120 to 150 elephants through samples of elephant dropping. For three months, starting late of June, Deoxyribonucleic Acid (DNA) of elephants's faeces are being conducted to get the actual number of elephants.

Declared by Minister of Forestry No. 255/Kpts-II/2004. July 19, 2004.