The Asian elephant is declining throughout its range and nearing extinction in the wild in many of the thirteen countries where it occurs.
The threat of poaching, habitat loss and increasing cases of human/elephant conflict requires extensive investment into anti-poaching programs, government liaison, community education and the establishment of good practices to protect the second largest land animal from extinction.
Working in partnership with Fauna and Flora International in Cambodia, we are investing in a range of strategies to prevent the destruction of habitat and helping local villages to co-exist with the elephant. Securing the income of farmers affected by the local elephant populations is a main priority in mitigating human-elephant conflict (often referred to as HEC).
Included in these strategies is the planting of chilli around crops (elephants hate chilli), helping to recover property loss as a result of elephant activity, the implementation of educational campaigns, elephant tracking, anti-poaching patrols and prevention of illegal logging. The work is extensive and intense, and is helping to build a future in which the protection of this amazing gentle giant is assured.
As well as protecting wild elephants, our work with Fauna and Flora International in Cambodia is having great results for the local village people, who have acted on the advice and assistance of FFI's Cambodian Elephant Conservation Group and are greatly increasing their crop yield and income. Since the implementation of strategies to protect crops from elephant raiding, villagers have successfully harvested around double the amount of rice as last year. The mindset of most villagers regarding crop protection, alternative crop planting and crop yield improvement has seen great progress since our involvement.
A local farmer, Nget, says, "I am happy to increase my crop yield with the support of the project. I want to explain to other farmers in the area to continue to grow 'soft crops' because it is easy and of more benefit than just cutting trees in the forest."
If you would like to help protect Asian Elephants in the wild you can make a tax-deductible donation to Wildlife Warriors by selecting 'Elephant Conservation Programs' on the donation form. We appreciate your support.
Cambodia's "Uncle Elephant" Receives Prestigious Environmental Prize
The program manager for Fauna & Flora International's (FFI) Cambodian Elephant Conservation Group (CECG), Tuy Sereivathana, affectionately known as Vathana or "Uncle Elephant" by Cambodian villagers, has been awarded to 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize. Widely recognised as the world's most prestigious environment award, Vathana received the honour for his work on developing innovative low-cost solutions to mitigate human-elephant conflict in Cambodia.
Australia Zoo Wildlife Warriors supports the CECG through our Asian elephant conservation project with FFI in Cambodia. Vathana and the CECG's success lies in the empowering of local communities to co-operatively participate in endangered Asian elephant conservation. They provide local farmers with the tools and knowledge required to live alongside elephants while developing more sustainable village practices, including education to demonstrate how to avoid conflict with elephants and how to best mitigate it when it does occur.
Agricultural land is now also being used more productively for crops and is less appealing to elephants, lessening the need to encroach on surrounding forests. At the start of the decade, elephant killings in retaliation for crop-raiding were not uncommon. As a result of FFI and CECG's involvement, there has not been one single confirmed elephant deah due to human-elephant conflict since 2005 - the entire time Vathana has been in charge!
The Goldman Environmental Prize annually recognizes individuals from the six inhabited continental regions for their sustained and significant efforts to protect and enhance the the natural environment. Vathana will receive an award of $150,000 to go towards the Cambodian Elephant Conservation Group, funds that will go a long way towards the protection of precious remaining elephant habitat.