Factsheet: Asian Elephant

Posted on 08 March 2006  | 
Although revered by many Asian cultures, the Asian elephant is being pushed to extinction. While there are over 15,000 Asian elephants in captivity, only 25,600-32,750 are thought to roam wild in the tropical forests of Asia, less than a tenth of the number of wild African elephants. These remaining populations are mostly small, isolated, and fragmented because their ancient migratory routes and habitat have been interrupted by expanding human encroachment.

Asian elephants are 'flagship' species for their habitats - that is, charismatic representatives of the biodiversity within the complex ecosystems they inhabit. Because these large animals need a lot of space to survive, their conservation will help maintain biological diversity and ecological integrity over extensive areas and so help many other species.

WWF created the Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy (AREAS) in 1998 to conserve the remaining populations of these endangered large mammals and their habitats. Drawing on 40 years of experience in elephant and rhino conservation, the strategy recognizes that conservation success will only be possible through a wide-ranging approach that goes beyond protecting isolated areas and addresses issues of land-use practices.

The Eastern Plains Landscape of Cambodia is home to many endangered species, including the Asian elephant, as well as banteng, gaur, and Eld’s deer.
© WWF-Canon / Gerald S Cubitt Enlarge

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