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© WWF-Bhutan
Saving Asia's elephants

WWF's Asian Rhino and Elephant Action Strategy (AREAS) grew out of the recognition that conserving these endangered species and their habitats would only be possible through a landscape-based approach that goes beyond isolated protected areas and addresses issues of land-use practices in the surrounding areas.

Indian rhinoceros (Rhinoceros unicornis) radio tracking on Indian elephant, Chitwan National Park, Nepal

© Michel Gunther / WWF

New hope for dwindling populations
Elephants play an important role in maintaining the health of their habitats. They’re important grazers and browsers, eating huge amounts of food every day, which helps to shape the often-thick vegetation of their Asian landscapes. And their habitats - when healthy - provide important resources for both wildlife and people.

So, by conserving the Asian elephant, we’re making sure their habitat continues to flourish for the benefit of all.

So what is WWF doing?

Through the Asian Rhinos and Elephants Action Strategy (AREAS), WWF is helping to conserve the remaining elephant populations and their habitats. And to improve connections between fragmented areas where Asian elephants live.

We're working with governments and local communities to reduce conflict between people and elephants. And we’re influencing policy and legislation to benefit elephant conservation.

WWF is also tackling poaching by working with the authorities to improve the enforcement of laws on the illegal trade in elephants and their parts. And collaborating with TRAFFIC to reduce demand for ivory in consumer markets - all part of the global Wildlife Crime Initiative.

And we’re helping improve the livelihoods of people living alongside elephants, through activities that link economic development with elephant conservation. That way, people can see the benefits of keeping elephants alive, and their habitat intact, so they’ll want to conserve rather than harm this magnificent animal.

Reversing the decline from India to Indonesia

AREAS believes that a balance can be struck so that wild species get the secure core areas and forest corridors they need, while people can pursue agriculture, forestry and other forms of land-use in a more planned and sustainable manner.

It is an ambitious programme that brings together cutting-edge conservation biology with trade monitoring, socio-economic analysis, state-of-the-art mapping and policy advocacy - and promises new hope for Asia's dwindling populations of elephants.

And the successful conservation of AREAS priority landscapes will not only safeguard a future for Asia’s wild elephants and rhinos, but also protect countless other endangered animals, including tigers and orang-utans.

Main objectives

WWF's programme aims to conserve elephants and their habitats by:
  • Restoring and securing key wildernesses;
  • Strengthening antipoaching efforts;
  • Mitigating conflicts over natural resources to benefit both humans and elephants;
  • Facilitating creative land-use planning to solve problems facing wildlife and people; and
  • Monitoring populations to improve management strategies for Asian elephants.

By adopting this broad and innovative approach, the AREAS progamme aims to halt the loss of elephants and their core habitats across the region.
As human populations grow and people settle in areas that were once the sole domain of elephants, human-elephant conflicts become increasingly common. At present, this is the biggest threat to the survival of Asian elephants in the wild.

© © Jeff Foott / WWF

Main focus areas

South Asia bioregion:

  • Terai Arc strecthes across the lowlands of the Himalayas on the border between Nepal and India. We’re helping protect and restore degraded wildlife corridors so elephants can follow their traditional migratory routes without disturbing people’s homes and crops.
  • Nilgiris and eastern Ghats boast the world's largest population of wild Asian elephants. This area is also home to many other endangered animals, including tigers.

South East Asia bioregion:
  • Bukit Barisan Selatan and Riau are key habitats in Sumatra where WWF is working to combat poaching, stem habitat loss and mitigate human-elelphant conflict.
  • Northern Borneo is home to critical habitats and the focus of a range of WWF projects.
Indochina bioregion:
  • Lower Mekong - The tri-border area between Cambodia, Laos and Vietnam contains vitally important forests. We are working to protect these habitats from illegal and unstustainable logging, and to reduce the poaching of endangered species.
  • Cat Tien, Vietnam - We're helping to tackle wildlife crime in one of the region's most important parks.

Sumatran elephant (Elephas maximus sumatrensis).

© WWF-Indonesia/Samsul Komar

How you can help

Don't buy ivory products. Illegal ivory trafficking poses a grave threats to elephants.

Adopt an elephant: WWF-US & International | WWF-UK

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CITES logo
The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) is an international agreement between governments, that aims to ensure that international trade in specimens of wild animals and plants does not threaten their survival and it accords varying degrees of protection to more than 33,000 species of animals and plants.


 The WWF Wildlife Crime Scorecard report selects 23 range, transit and consumer countries from Asia and Africa facing the highest levels of illegal trade in elephant ivory, rhino horn and tiger parts.