"Land of the 100 elephants" aims to keep that promise...

Posted on 19 April 2005    
A family of elephants in a banana plantation, Lao PDR
© WWF Indochina Programme
Wild Asian elephants are confined to 13 contiguous countries in South and Southeast Asia and are classified as a globally threatened-endangered species.
Their continued existence is increasingly threatened by habitat loss and degradation, poaching, illegal trade in elephant products and live animals, and capture of wild individuals for use as work animals.
Lao PDR is considered to have the most important national elephant population in Indochina with viable numbers remaining in many areas.
The largest remaining extent of forest cover in the region is located in Lao PDR providing a strong foundation for habitat management and protection.
Despite this potential, the capacity for wildlife management is low and there is a strong need to improve our understanding of wildlife populations, habitat, and threats to improve management of existing elephant populations and to support emerging resource use issues such as human-elephant conflict (HEC).
To address these needs the WWF Lao Programme is in the process of beginning a landscape level elephant conservation project in Lao PDR.
The Project, An assessment of elephants and their habitats in Lower Mekong forests, is supported by WWF-US, WWF-AREAS, and the US Fish and Wildlife Service and will address the following objectives:
* To determine the distribution of elephant populations and elephant management issues such as HEC and poaching in the Southern Mekong Forest and around Xaygnabouly Province.
* To identify appropriate spatially-based management and conservation measures.
* To develop guidelines for actions to prevent human-elephant conflicts, and to react to human-elephant conflicts as they occur.
* To improve national capacity for elephant management issues.
The project will support the National Programme for Integrating Elephant Management and Rural Livelihood Improvement in Lao PDR which was developed as a collaborative effort between the Lao Ministry of Agriculture and Forestry, the FAO, the UNDP, WWF, WCS and IUCN and is currently under final review and approval by the government of Lao PDR.
The National Programme will act as an umbrella to consolidate all elephant conservation activities, ensuring that they are supporting each other towards a series of common goals.
A family of elephants in a banana plantation, Lao PDR
© WWF Indochina Programme Enlarge

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