WWF-Cambodia says researchers had a close encounter with a herd of wild Asian elephants in Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province which is a positive sign conservation efforts are working.
A WWF-Cambodia statement on Friday said its researchers encountered the herd in mid-April, while they were monitoring wildlife in the sanctuary, which it supports under the management of the Mondulkiri provincial department of environment.
It said that WWF’s scientists said they spotted five adults, four calves and about four juvenile Asian elephants which they videoed. The calves were observed staying alongside their mothers, with some putting their trunks on the side of the cow elephants while the herd was resting in the deciduous dipterocarp forest.
“The video clip was taken by a member of the research group who was perched on a tree branch to stay safe,” the statement said. The footage was taken to provide evidence of the presence of the Asian elephant in the protected area and that they are breeding.
Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said yesterday that the presence of Asian elephants in the Srepok Wildlife Sanctuary at this time is good and encouraging news for conservation officials.
He said in order to conserve elephants in Cambodia, the government has cooperated with partner organisations to develop protection plans.
“We have prepared strategies to conserve elephants by enhancing the protection of natural resources, forest which are habitats and feeding grounds for elephants, collecting traps used by hunters in the forest, enforcing laws against offenders and banning wildlife hunting,” Mr Pheaktra said.
He said that currently, there are more than 500 wild elephants living in the country, including an estimated 110 in the Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuary, nearly 200 in Phnom Kravanh Wildlife Sanctuary and the rest in other protected areas.
Mr Pheaktra noted that according to a study of wild elephants in Cambodia and other Southeast Asian countries, there has been a significant decline of their numbers over the last few decades due to illegal hunting and destruction of habitats.
He added there are about 70 domesticated elephants in the Kingdom and their numbers are dwindling because they rarely mate in captivity and are dying from old age.