Elephants in Cambodia

One man’s mission to save Cambodia’s elephants

Since winning the prestigious 2010 Goldman Environmental Prize in Asia, Tuy Sereivathana has visited the US and Britain, even shaking hands with US President Barack Obama, yet in his home country of Cambodia he remains simply ‘Uncle Elephant’. A lifelong advocate for elephants in the Southeast Asian country, Sereivathana’s work has allowed villagers and elephants to live side-by-side. Working with Fauna and Flora International (FFI) he has successfully brought elephant-killing in Cambodia to an end. As if this were not enough, Sereivathana has helped curb the destruction of forests in his native country and built four schools for children who didn’t previously have formal education opportunities.

Elephants and Elephant Conservation in Cambodia

Scientific surveys of Cambodia’s wild elephant population were first undertaken in 2001 and highlighted the difficulties of studying low density populations in forest habitat. The results have led to estimates of the population being between 400-600 some way below previous guestimates of up to 2,000. In a country so rich in habitat one might have suspected that Cambodia would support a much larger population but it seems elephants have been relentlessly hunted for ivory, meat and other products. It appears that the prevalence of hunters has made the remaining elephants extremely wary of humans and they appear to be constantly on the move. Another threat to the wild elephant population is the continuing prevalence of mines in the forest. Cambodia has a comparatively small population and large areas of natural habitat and it could be possible for the elephant population to recover but such a move would require a positive environmental policy and rigorous enforcement from the government. Given the political and economic circumstances in Cambodia this would almost certainly require international support and financing.

Cambodia: Elephant locations

Cambodia Calling: Cambodian elephants and other great elephants

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