Asian Elephant Conservation efforts across borders “Fostering best practices for protecting our Jumbo Friend”

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Deeper into the forest, a path leads to a bubbling brook with the symphony of buzzing insects, chattering of crickets and chirping birds.  On the edge of the bank stood few Asian elephants splashing and spraying each other with water and mud. You can find Asian elephants, in the tropical forest and plains of Southeast Asia.

The Indian forests is home to over half of the largest population of Asian elephants.  The North East India is a land of lush evergreen forests, rolling hills and plains with flourishing green coverage which offers a home to a wide momentous variety of rare and interesting flora and fauna, including Asian elephants.  

Though extinct in many regions, Asian elephants exist in remote populations throughout 13 range states: Bangladesh; Bhutan; Cambodia; China; India; Indonesia; Laos; Malaysia; Myanmar; Nepal; Sri Lanka; Thailand; and Vietnam. A small number of elephants living in Thailand and Myanmar are in captivity whereas in China only a few hundred elephants remain. 

For thousand years now, Asian elephants have been sacredly revered and sanctified in religious traditions throughout Asia.  Elephants have been essential to various aspects of Asian civilization like   transportation, ceremonies, logging, and other industries too.  We used them in warfare and kept them in captivity for over 5,000 years.  In traditional beliefs and as well as in the modern society, we have shared a long history with Asian elephants.  Among all the other problems faced by the Asian elephants, Habitat Loss is the most damaging one.

 

A Sparkle - Ray of Hope

Adaptable solutions have been carried out across the 13 range states, where Asian elephants exist in.  These solutions have been developed to hopefully safeguard the Asian elephants from extinction in the wild.

Ease human-elephant conflict

Variety of applications and models like the Text Messaging System - SMS that warns villagers when elephants are in a particular area are being carried out in numerous states.   This not only allows the villagers to avoid the elephants, but also alleviate human-elephant conflict.

Responsible elephant tourism

The Save Elephant Foundation (SEF) in Myanmar is the first international foundation to open in the country and work with the government and people.  The major goal of SEF Myanmar is to provide awareness and empower locals to improve their lifestyle.   Their next priority is also enhancing the environment and the guidelines in regards to animal welfare.  One of their projects is the Green Hill Valley which encourages responsible elephant tourism.  The trend of experiencing elephants without exploiting them is ideal in these times. 

Peaceful co-existence

An overwhelming co-existence society has been developed by the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservation Society called the “Elefriendly bus”.  Before this initiative arrived, children risked their lives every day walking to and from school in the Wasgamuwa National Park region.  This inventiveness enables elephants and local communities to coexist peaceably.   Elefriendly bus was intended to primarily prevent school children and villagers from possible risky conflicts with elephants. 

Chain Free – Day or Night

The Elephant Sanctuary in Thailand is the Asia’s first “chain free” elephant sanctuary! No elephant is ever chained up, day or night!  

Both wild and domesticated populations of the Asian elephants reside in Thailand.  

Elephants are either captured in the wild usually as juveniles or bred in captivity.  These are domestic elephants are tamed to live and work with mahout (elephant keeper), in tourism or logging industry.

In Cambodia too, wild Asian elephant habitat is being protected.  A small original and premiere sanctuary called the Elephant Valley Project, Cambodia has about 10 elephants, which they believe are the last to be domesticated.  These elephants are rescued from cruel working environment and unpleasant owners.   They too have a “chain free” environment as close to the wild and no tourist rides. 

Meeting evangelists of Asian Elephant Conservation across borders with  Khun Sivaporn at in Thailand, the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation

 

Captivity to the Wild

An extraordinary conservation program in Thailand, the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation has been returning captive elephants back into the forest since 1997.  This unparalleled program has proven very fruitful.  Nearly 100 of elephants have been re- introduced into the natural habitat in Thailand.  

 

Preserve - endangered Elephants

Wildlife Alliance have launched Elephant Alliance campaign, in Cambodia to preserve a major elephant corridor from deforestation and other wildlife threats.  One of the ongoing programs - The Southern Cardamom Forest Protection Program (SCFPP) delivers on-the-ground protection, with rangers patrolling against elephant killings, illegal logging, and forest violation.  

Elephant is important to its ecosystem

Over the period of years, it has been recognised by Humans that the Elephants are exclusively intelligent and represent self-awareness. Their essence has been ruined, in-spite of an understanding that they have great intelligence and are beyond instinct.  

Ecologically significant regions must be endangered and carefully picked as habitat for the elephants.   According to Tuy Sereivathana, Manager, Cambodian Elephant Conservation Group, “A healthy elephant population is very good for the whole ecosystem. For example, they create waterholes that help other animals in the dry season and they help the forest regenerate by spreading fruits and seeds. As a flagship species, they help to protect everything else in the forest too.”

 

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