Efforts urgently needed to boost protection of endangered wild elephants



Posted on 30 October 2013  | 
Remains of three wild Asian elephants found inside Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, Mondulkiri province.
© WWF-Greater MekongEnlarge
Phnom Penh, Cambodia – The remains of three wild Asian elephants were found on Monday inside the protected area of Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary in Mondulkiri province in eastern Cambodia and evidence suggests the elephants were slaughtered by well-organized poachers. WWF calls on the Cambodian government to immediately strengthen enforcement measures to protect this globally endangered mammal.

Acting on villagers’ reports, enforcement and research staff from the Eastern Plains Landscape project in Mondulkiri province visited the site and were able to confirm the death of two mature large females and one calf. An examination of the elephant skeletons suggests that the two female elephants were shot in the head and died at the same place approximately three months earlier. The investigation team is still to determine the cause of death of the calf.

While the reason behind the killings remains unclear, female elephants do not have tusks so poaching for ivory is unlikely. The investigation team collected samples for further examination.

“An estimated 570 Asian elephants are found across Cambodia, with Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary home to approximately 150 elephants,” said Mr Micah Ingalls, WWF-Cambodia’s Acting Country Director. “The loss of any of these animals is a major blow to efforts to protect and recover the population of this majestic creature.”

Wildlife poaching is intensifying in protected areas in Mondulkiri province and is threatening already vulnerable animal populations. In September this year, the killing of a large pregnant gaur inside Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary was also recorded. Gaur is a globally threatened and IUCN-Red listed ungulate species. Habitat loss due to land concessions and illegal logging constitute another major threat to the protected area.

“Illegal activities and wildlife poaching are eroding decades of investment by the Cambodian government and WWF in conservation and protected areas management,” Mr Ingalls added.  “Criminal activity in Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary must be shut down or we risk losing the great wilderness of the Eastern Plains landscape.”

WWF calls on the Cambodian government to undertake an immediate and comprehensive investigation into the killing of these elephants, and urgently boost enforcement efforts inside protected areas. WWF also urges the government to develop a robust management plan for Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary.

WWF works with the Cambodian government to conserve the vast dry forest landscape in the Eastern Plains and the globally significant wildlife it harbours. The project focuses on two conservation areas, Mondulkiri Protected Forest and Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, covering a total area of approximately 6,000km2. WWF provides technical and financial support to laws enforcement and patrols inside the protected areas. WWF also supports a mobile enforcement team that operates across Mondulkiri province.
Remains of three wild Asian elephants found inside Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, Mondulkiri province.
© WWF-Greater Mekong Enlarge
Remains of three wild Asian elephants found inside Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary, Mondulkiri province.
© WWF-Greater Mekong Enlarge

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