Asian ele­phants

TO PRO­TECT ASIAN ELE­PHANTS, WE NEED TO CON­SERVE HABI­TAT AND RE­DUCE CLASHES WITH PEO­PLE, SAYS

BBC Wildlife Magazine - - Welcome - BELINDA STE­WART-COX. BELINDA STE­WART-COX is head of con­ser­va­tion at Ele­phant Fam­ily.

Why we need to re­duce con­flict with peo­ple

sian ele­phants are the smaller cousins of those en­coun­tered in Africa, and they are found in 13 range states, from In­dia, Nepal and Bhutan to the South-east Asian coun­tries of Thai­land and Malaysia and into In­done­sia. Many cen­turies ago they lived much fur­ther afield – in north­ern China, and as far west as Iraq and on Java.

The IUCN es­ti­mates the over­all pop­u­la­tion at some­where be­tween 40,000 and 50,000, but warns this is lit­tle more than a “crude guess”. In most ar­eas, but es­pe­cially South-east Asia, they are de­clin­ing.

The main threat to Asian ele­phants is habi­tat loss as a re­sult of grow­ing hu­man pop­u­la­tions. Hun­gry ele­phants con­flict with vil­lagers by raid­ing crops and food stores and stray­ing onto roads and rail­way lines with fa­tal con­se­quences.

In gen­eral, poach­ing for ivory is not a prob­lem, though there is a new and il­le­gal trade in ele­phant skin, first doc­u­mented by the char­ity Ele­phant Fam­ily in 2014, in Myan­mar.

At least half of all Asian ele­phants are found in In­dia, where the is­sue of in­creas­ing num­bers of peo­ple is es­pe­cially acute. Num­bers are rel­a­tively healthy in Sri Lanka, but there is now a prob­lem of con­flict with those re­set­tling ar­eas va­cated dur­ing the civil war. In Malaysia and In­done­sia the big­gest threat is the ex­pan­sion of oil-palm plan­ta­tions, while Thai­land ap­pears to be keeping ele­phants rel­a­tively safe.

The key to pro­tect­ing Asian ele­phants is se­cur­ing habi­tat and re­duc­ing con­flict with peo­ple. Main­tain­ing wildlife cor­ri­dors be­tween con­ser­va­tion ar­eas so that ele­phants can move freely on mi­gra­tory routes with­out com­ing into con­tact with hu­mans is one of the ways this can be done.

Pro­tect­ing crops can help (though this is dif­fi­cult against such in­tel­li­gent an­i­mals), and Ele­phant Fam­ily is also help­ing de­velop early warn­ing sys­tems for vil­lagers in south­ern In­dia us­ing text mes­sag­ing.

HUN­GRY ELE­PHANTS CON­FLICT WITH VIL­LAGERS BY RAID­ING CROPS AND STRAY­ING ONTO ROADS.”

An Asian ele­phant calf suck­les while its fam­ily feeds on grass in Jim Cor­bett Na­tional Park, In­dia. At least half of all Asian ele­phants are found in this coun­try.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.