Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - Mondulkiri population of Asian elephants now an estimated 300 strong

Mondulkiri population of Asian elephants now an estimated 300 strong

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
A herd of elephants are seen in Mondulkirri's Keo Seima Wildlife Sanctuaries in 2019. FACEBOOK

Mondulkiri population of Asian elephants now an estimated 300 strong

Wildlife researchers from the Mondulkiri provincial Department of Environment and the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF-Cambodia) have recently completed collecting 85 Asian elephant dung samples for analysis to identify population size and migratory patterns.

It is estimated that about 300 elephants live in the protected areas of the province.

Provincial environment department director Keo Sopheak told The Post on August 23 that four years ago researchers had collected data on elephants in the province. But in 2020, further research was conducted and studies have only just been completed. The recent dung samples will provide additional information.

“We are conducting DNA analysis at the Royal University of Phnom Penh to understand how many Asian elephants are in the protected area. Analysing the dung can also reveal migratory patterns,” he said.

He added that most elephants inhabit the Srepok and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuaries in the province. According to a survey, the number of elephants in the province is estimated at 300.

“With the assistance of partner organisations, such as WWF-Cambodia, we can maintain a budget . . . to conduct research and collect data on rare and endangered species, including Asian elephants, leopards and banteng,” he said.

Techniques used to study elephants, Sopheak continued, included dung for DNA analysis, hidden cameras to record activities and other methods.

The Ministry of Environment said Asian elephants were listed on the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Threatened Species as “vulnerable”. However, according to data from cameras placed in protected areas, herds of elephants in Cambodia have revealed calves.

Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra said the presence of newborn elephants in large herds gave hope to conservationists and environmentalists. This proves the effectiveness of protection and conservation efforts in forests, elephant shelters and assisting the world’s endangered Asian elephants.

He added that Cambodia had a total population of 400 to 600 Asian elephants. Most lived in the Cardamom Mountains, the northern plateau of the Tonle Sap and the eastern plateau landscape areas (Mondulkiri). These areas have rich biodiversity, ecosystems and slopes which are favourable to the survival of elephants and other wildlife. The number of domestic elephants was estimated at more than 70.

“Asian elephants are considered an important species because of their cultural significance, roles in ecosystems, and potential. They can protect other species in their habitats,” Pheaktra said.

But the Asian elephants are under serious threat. Habitat degradation, and separation and scattering of Asian elephants have negatively impacted the long-term survival of this important species.

Pheaktra added that the Asian Elephant Conservation Action Plan for Cambodia (2020-2029) had identified six priority issues – reduction in habitat loss, conservation and reconnection of corridors for herds of wild elephants, law enforcement, prevention of elephant capture, reduction in conflicts between wild elephants and humans, education, and the launch of strategic actions to address these issues.

It is estimated that the 10-year Asian Elephant Conservation Action Plan required $40.5 million. The funds were expected to come from a variety of sources, including government, NGOs and development partners.

According to research, in the last 60 to 70 years, the global Asian elephant population had decreased by about 50 per cent, while there has been nearly a 90-per-cent loss of habitat. Of the 40,000 to 48,000 Asian elephants currently living in forests, about 75 per cent are in India and Sri Lanka.

MOST VIEWED

  • Hong Kong firm done buying Coke Cambodia

    Swire Coca-Cola Ltd, a wholly-owned subsidiary of Hong Kong-listed Swire Pacific Ltd, on November 25 announced that it had completed the acquisition of The Coca-Cola Co’s bottling business in Cambodia, as part of its ambitions to expand into the Southeast Asian market. Swire Coca-Cola affirmed

  • Cambodia's Bokator now officially in World Heritage List

    UNESCO has officially inscribed Cambodia’s “Kun Lbokator”, commonly known as Bokator, on the World Heritage List, according to Minister of Culture and Fine Arts Phoeurng Sackona in her brief report to Prime Minister Hun Sen on the night of November 29. Her report, which was

  • NagaWorld union leader arrested at airport after Australia trip

    Chhim Sithar, head of the Labour Rights Supported Union of Khmer Employees at NagaWorld integrated casino resort, was arrested on November 26 at Phnom Penh International Airport and placed in pre-trial detention after returning from a 12-day trip to Australia. Phnom Penh Municipal Court Investigating Judge

  • Angkor Beer, 30 Years of Prestige and Still Counting

    Let’s celebrate 30 years of prestige with Angkor Beer. In this 2022, Angkor Beer is 30 years old and has been staying with Cambodian hearts in all circumstances. Head of core beer portfolio, EmYuthousaid, “We have been with Cambodians for three decades now. We, ANGKOR Beer, pride

  • Sub-Decree approves $30M for mine clearance

    The Cambodian government established the ‘Mine-Free Cambodia 2025 Foundation’, and released an initial budget of $30 million. Based on the progress of the foundation in 2023, 2024 and 2025, more funds will be added from the national budget and other sources. In a sub-decree signed by Prime Minister Hun Sen

  • Two senior GDP officials defect to CPP

    Two senior officials of the Grassroots Democratic Party (GDP) have asked to join the Cambodian People’s Party (CPP), after apparently failing to forge a political alliance in the run-up to the 2023 general election. Yang Saing Koma, chairman of the GDP board, and Lek Sothear,