WILDLIFE CONSERVATION

ELEPHANTSREPTILES

ELEPHANT

ELEPHANT REINTRODUCTION

Conserve Natural Forests works to reintroduce captive Asian elephants to protected natural habitats. 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. Our plan provides a path to reunite elephants with the ecosystems that need them.  

We work hard to ethically and sustainably relocate female elephants to our project site, where they learn to forage, socialize, and care for themselves in a safe and abundant environment. Their natural habits also encourage landscape succession on our land through nutrient cycling and seed dispersal. We intend to study the dynamic between elephants and tropical forests in Southeast Asia and contribute valuable data to the limited research currently available. When the elephants are ready, we will reintroduce them to a protected area. When the elephants on-site have been rehabilitated and learned how to be self-sustainable in a semi-wild environment with personal autonomy over all aspects of their lives, they will be reintroduced and relocated to a protected area.

JUSTIFICATION

In accordance with the Jakarta Declaration for Asian Elephants and the IUCN Guidelines for Reintroduction, Conserve Natural Forests (CNF) seeks to ensure the well-being of captive Asian elephants and transition them safely  back into protected forests. Returning elephants to their natural habitat enriches ecosystems that depend on elephants for healthy succession and functionality. The reintroduction of the wild Asian Elephant to their natural habits is essential for the continuity of the species and for the tropical forests they call home.

However, elephants rescued from riding camps or intensive labor sites are often incapable of immediate reintroduction to their natural habitat (Soorae 2018).  There is a severe lack of research in Asian elephant ecology and their role in shaping tropical dry forest ecosystems (Fernando et al. 2011). While the demand for sustainable elephant tourism is growing, there remains a great deal of misinformation among both locals and tourists regarding elephant welfare and behavior. Building on the success of the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation in Sublanka and Doi Pha Muang Wildlife Sanctuaries, CNF seeks to contribute valuable research regarding elephant ecology and sustainable reintroduction to the broader community by reuniting elephants with tropical forests for the benefit of both.

SHORT-TERM BENEFITS

Our primary benefits in the short term include restoring the relocated elephant’s health, nurturing self-sustaining habits, assessing her fitness for reintroduction, and educating the community about conservation and forest restoration.  The end goal would see us release her into a wildlife sanctuary under the protection of the government. We would also like to study her interaction with fringing habitats and diet preferences and use this data to inform our restoration strategy in the future, including the establishment of bio-corridors and dense forest barriers between protected areas and human-dominated landscapes.  

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!

LONG-TERM CONSERVATION

This project, properly designed and implemented, has the potential to change the current popular strategy of “retiring” captive elephants in tourist sanctuaries. These elephants can return to the environment to which they have always belonged, to be what they have always been. By involving the community, we hope to educate both tourists and locals about the benefits of wildlife and environmental conservation as well as encourage local stakeholder investment in the stability and success of the wild Thai elephant population.  

PERSONNEL

Conserve Natural Forests employs a range of skilled personnel who are dedicated to the rehabilitation process. We employ four mahouts who live on site to monitor and care for our elephants. Both the founder and program manager have extensive experience in elephant management and are strongly invested in the success of the project. We also work with Friends of the Asian Elephant (FAE), who provide free veterinary support, and our reintroduction goals would hardly be possible without the hard work and demonstrated success of the Elephant Reintroduction Foundation.

RATIONALE

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.

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 (Ibid). The demonstrated success of this project should encourage other organizations to follow suit before the wild Asian elephant has been extirpated from Thailand entirely. There are many captive elephants – many of them tamed, but none of them domesticated. These beautiful animals may yet thrive in their natural habitat if given the opportunity. 

reptile

RATIONALE

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.

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 (Ibid). The demonstrated success of this project should encourage other organizations to follow suit before the wild Asian elephant has been extirpated from Thailand entirely. There are many captive elephants – many of them tamed, but none of them domesticated. These beautiful animals may yet thrive in their natural habitat if given the opportunity. 

reptile

REPTILE CONSERVATION

Conserve Natural Forests has created a habitat for endangered tortoises and terrapins. Our mission is to reproduce, rehabilitate, and release them into the Huai Nam Dang National Park, Thailand. A total of 18,854 tortoises were seized in illegal trade over the past 6 years in Thailand. These reptiles are traded for domestication, medication, and consumption. There is a dire need to protect these endangered animals and we have taken a step in that direction.

OUR GOAL

Our goal is to re-wild the endangered reptiles which we have rescued from the world of illegal trade. This is made possible by creating a sustainable ecosystem on our project land to help them better adapt in the wild.

THE PROJECT

The project began in 2017 with the arrival of a female elongated tortoise. Today, we house various tortoises and terrapins on our project land. The reptiles arrive here from very different environments, thereby making it important to have the eco-system on our project land to mimic the ecosystem of where they will be released. To do so, we have created a three-phase shelter on our land that takes into account all the factors necessary to the make the rehabilitation process convenient for the reptiles.

OUR GOAL

Our goal is to re-wild the endangered reptiles which we have rescued from the world of illegal trade. This is made possible by creating a sustainable ecosystem on our project land to help them better adapt in the wild.

THE PROJECT

The project began in 2017 with the arrival of a female elongated tortoise. Today, we house various tortoises and terrapins on our project land. The reptiles arrive here from very different environments, thereby making it important to have the eco-system on our project land to mimic the ecosystem of where they will be released. To do so, we have created a three-phase shelter on our land that takes into account all the factors necessary to the make the rehabilitation process convenient for the reptiles.

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?

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Want to find out more? Send us a message!

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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

Sign up to receive regular updates from cnf

Find us online and follow us on our journey.

Building a sustainable future, one tree at a time.

info@conservenaturalforests.org