The Ministry of Environment expects the number of Asian elephants in Cambodia to increase after park rangers in Mondulkiri province and researchers from World Wildlife Fund for Nature Cambodia (WWF Cambodia) spotted a herd of the animals in Sre Pok Wildlife Sanctuary on March 16.
Ministry spokesman Neth Pheaktra Pheaktra told The Post on March 17 that seeing the herd provided new hope for the conservation of elephants in Cambodia, as the sanctuary is connected to the Phnom Prich, Lumphat and Keo Seima wildlife sanctuaries in Mondulkiri and neighbouring Ratanakkiri.
Pheaktra said these four sanctuaries were rich habitat and suitable for elephants living in the northeastern region of Cambodia.
“Through the use of motion-sensor camera traps, we see the presence of many baby elephants in this herd. These are small baby elephants, which is a sign that active reproduction is taking place.
“Seeing all of these baby elephants gives us hope for further conservation and we expect that the number of Asian elephants in Cambodia will increase in the future because of the evidence these pictures provide,” he said.
According to Pheaktra, the presence of elephants foraging for food is unsurprising and shows the effectiveness of the ministry’s efforts in protecting and conserving Cambodia’s natural resources. These protected areas are rich natural habitat for elephants and provide feeding areas and water resources that allow them to flourish if left undisturbed, he said.
On March 16, a herd of eight elephants – one male, four females, one teenager and two babies – were spotted by rangers in the Sre Pok Wildlife Sanctuary during a patrol for a biodiversity study.
“This herd is one of many Asian elephant herds present in Cambodia. The herd is mobile, so we survey their distribution by examining their dung and summarising the results every two years.
“The conservation area in Mondulkiri has 350 to 450 Asian elephants present, according to data found in 2020,” said Keo Sopheak, director of the Mondulkiri provincial environment department.