Asian Elephant Conservation Fund 2013

Total Number of Grants Awarded 29
Total Funds Distributed Through Grants $1,680,233
Total Partner Contributions Leveraged by Grants $2,463,729
Total Number of Countries that Received Program Support 8

Large herds of elephants once roamed freely throughout Asia’s forests and grasslands. Today, there are fewer than 40,000 in the wild due to habitat loss, human-elephant conflict, and poaching.

Asian elephants face many threats in the wild, primarily due to habitat loss and fragmentation. All Asian elephant range countries are currently experiencing rapid human population growth. This growth in population expedites the destruction of the forest, the principal habitat of Asian elephants, through heavy logging practices and the clearing of forest for agriculture, livestock grazing, and infrastructure development such as settlements. As the natural habitat of Asian elephants shrinks, hungry elephants are forced to locate food sources outside of the forest. Often, these food sources are local villager’s subsistence crops, such as banana, rice, and cassava plantations. As a result, human-elephant conflict is one of the main threats to Asian elephants as angry villagers frequently retaliate against elephants by harming or killing elephants. Furthermore, human fatalities also regularly result from the clash of humans and elephants. Each year in Sri Lanka, approximately 120 elephants are killed by villagers and about 60 people are killed during these incursions. In addition to habitat loss and human-elephant conflict, Asian elephants are also poached regularly for their ivory tusks and other body parts.

Two adult Asian elephants and young at Kaziranda National Park, India. Credit: Udayan Borthakur

Credit: Udayan Borthakur

Wildlife Without Borders is working to mitigate human-elephant conflict and stop poaching by supporting conservation projects working to identify ways to alleviate human-elephant conflict, increase law enforcement capacity to monitor illegal logging and poaching, and conduct community outreach and awareness to inspire pride and optimistic views about Asian elephants in range countries. The United States Congress passed the Asian Elephant Conservation Act in 1997, which established a fund for the protection of the Asian elephant and the conservation of its habitat. In 2013, the program awarded more than $1.6 million for projects funded under the Asian Elephant Conservation Fund and leveraged an addition $2.4 million that supported 29 projects in eight countries. Project highlights include:

 

  • Cambodia: Teaching environmental education to thousands of disadvantaged schoolchildren and their families in rural and impoverished communities living in the midst of wild Asian elephants in the Cardamom Mountains.
  • Malaysia: Assessing efforts to reduce conflict between elephants and people by moving elephants to more remote habitats. 
  • Thailand: Training park personnel to collect data during their patrols that can be used to improve the management of elephant habitat.
  • Indonesia: Training and regional workshops for veterinarians in Banda Aceh to improve the care of captive elephants, working to conserve wild elephants and learn about diseases affecting wild elephants.