WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

A forest is more than just the trees. The health of a forest ecosystem depends on a vibrant and diverse animal community. CNF strives to conserve and enhance biodiversity by improving landscape connectivity through planting trees that attract animals and actively promoting immediate intervention to protect critically endangered species. Some of these – sometimes referred to as keystone species – have a disproportionate effect on the forest’s well-being, such as earthworms, bees, and elephants.

ELEPHANT

ASIAN ELEPHANT CONSERVATION

Loss and fragmentation of habitat is likely the biggest threat to Elephas Maximus throughout Southeast Asia today. Deforestation rates in Thailand exceeded 1.4% annually for most of the 20th century, with a loss of nearly 70% forest cover by 1998. Excessive logging and land-use change throughout Thailand has extirpated much of its native population, and today the remainder are distributed discontinuously in small, isolated pockets of protected areas and wildlife sanctuaries.  

At the same time, the wild elephant population is declining as their range habitats fragment and constrict. Ascertaining a precise figure for the total population of Asian elephants in Thailand is difficult as research and data are limited, and estimates vary dramatically depending on the source. However, most agree that the Thai elephant population has declined by ~95% since 1850 from over 100,000 elephants to less than 7000. Urgent action is needed to ensure a healthy, self-sustaining Asian elephant population.

Elephants are often called the gardeners of the forest. This keystone species’ reduced presence in our tropical forests upsets the natural equilibrium, contributing to the unchecked growth and spread of dominant plant species and a reduction in overall seed germination and dispersal. There are many seeds – especially from large fruits – that need to pass through an elephant’s stomach before they can sprout. Elephants also contribute significantly to nutrient cycling and create pathways through the dense undergrowth that allow for passage by other animals.

BOOK AN ECO-TOUR

We host daily eco-tours for anyone who would like to visit and learn more about topics ranging from reforestation, wildlife conservation, sustainable tourism, and more. If you are interested and would like to experience the beauty of Thailand’s mountain forests, please visit us!

The most reliable estimates of the national elephant population suggest there are ~6500 elephants remaining in total. Of this population, over half (3500-4000) of the remaining elephants are raised in captivity, mainly in the tourism and forestry sectors. Conservative estimates suggest that there are only 1300-1700 wild elephants remaining in protected areas. More generous estimates propose a range of 2100-3000 wild elephants throughout the entire country. Recently, the Department of Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation announced that the wild elephant population in some protected areas in Thailand is increasing at a rate of 7% per year, suggesting that there are viable habitats to support more wild elephants.

The most reliable estimates of the national elephant population suggest there are ~6500 elephants remaining in total. Of this population, over half (3500-4000) of the remaining elephants are raised in captivity, mainly in the tourism and forestry sectors. Conservative estimates suggest that there are only 1300-1700 wild elephants remaining in protected areas. More generous estimates propose a range of 2100-3000 wild elephants throughout the entire country. Recently, the Department of Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation announced that the wild elephant population in some protected areas in Thailand is increasing at a rate of 7% per year, suggesting that there are viable habitats to support more wild elephants.

We believe as many elephants as possible should return to the forest. To date, there have only been two well-documented cases of successful reintroduction in Asia. The Elephant Reintroduction Foundation in Thailand has released over 100 elephants since they began their project in 1996. By all accounts, the project has been very successful: the cows have organized themselves into herds and many have mated with wild bulls and reproduced. Interestingly, these herds seem to have formed based not on inter-relatedness, but by the presence of a calf. Genetic diversity remained high after 20 years of monitoring, which suggests low occurrences of inbreeding and adequate genetic diversity for long-term success. The protected areas where these elephants were released –  Sublanka and Doi Pha Muang – are large and well-protected, and human-elephant conflict in these areas remains minimal compared to other areas further south. The demonstrated success of this project should encourage other organizations to follow suit before the wild Asian elephant has been extirpated from Thailand entirely.

This work will not be easy and it will require cooperation from many different stakeholders. CNF wants to replant trees and reforest areas that can sustain large wild elephant herds and reduce human-elephant conflict.

OUR NETWORK

Want to find out more? Send us a message!

Want to contribute to our cause?

Conserve Natural Forests was built and continues to grow thanks to the generosity of like-minded people who support our work. We would not be where we are today without their help. If you would like to know more about how you can contribute toward restoring Thailand’s beautiful ecosystems and saving endangered species, please consider donating to one of our projects.

Want to contribute to our cause?

Conserve Natural Forests was built and continues to grow thanks to the generosity of like-minded people who support our work. We would not be where we are today without their help. If you would like to know more about how you can contribute toward restoring Thailand’s beautiful ecosystems and saving endangered species, please consider donating to one of our projects.

Want to find out more? Send us a message!

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Find us online and follow us on our journey.

Building a sustainable future, one tree at a time.

info@conservenaturalforests.org

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Find us online and follow us on our journey.

Building a sustainable future, one tree at a time.

info@conservenaturalforests.org