The main threat to remaining wild Asian elephant populations is habitat destruction as a result of human encroachment. Wild populations now inhabit only a small percentage of their former ranges due to land being cleared for farms, roads and cities. This has lead to on-going human-elephant conflict over resources and resulted in many elephants and people being killed.
As well as participating in our region's first co-ordinated breeding and conservation program for their species, our elephants are here to create awareness and provide information about elephants and the threats and dangers to their future survival.
Taronga also has a long history of providing funds and support to many conservation projects for Asian Elephants around the world.
Some of these projects include:
Kui Buri National Park - Southwest Thailand
Kui Buri National Park is located in southwest Thailand and is recognised as home to one of the largest remaining populations of Asian Elephants – estimated at 300. It is also home to Banteng, Gaur, Malayan Tapir, Sun Bear, Dhole and Plain-pounched Hornbill.
Taronga supports the Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation’s work in Kui Buri National Park and the reduction of human-elephant conflict caused by activities such as farming. We provide funding for two ‘guard stations’ that protect two areas of the park. The ‘guard teams’ involve the local farmers in monitoring, data collection and actions to reduce the conflict.
Wildlife Protection Units in Bukit Tigapuluh, Sumatra
The Bukit Tigapuluh ecosystem is located in central Sumatra and is home to Sumatran Tiger, Sumatran Elephant and Sumatran Rhino. Taronga is committed to support Wildlife Protection Units (WPUs) in this valuable habitat. These WPUs have been trained and equipped with 14 units in total across the whole ecosystem. The patrols have recorded numerous incidents included land clearings, illegal logging and signs of poaching resulting in confiscations and providing evidence to authorities of poaching.
Northern Rangelands Trust, Kenya
The Northern Rangelands Trust (NRT) in Kenya was established to develop resilient community conservancies which transform people’s lives, secure peace and conserve natural resources. Taronga supports the Biliqo-Bulsea Conservancy, one of the largest in the area. This conservancy has an important population of wildlife and through support from Taronga has reduced the number of poached elephants. These results are due to improved security of wildlife by creating safer ground for their movement and improved rangeland health through environment practices that support both livestock and wildlife.
People, Elephants and Bees, Sri Lanka
Taronga has partnered with the Sri Lanka Wildlife Conservancy Society and the University of Newcastle to trail beehive fencing as an Asian Elephant crop-raiding deterrent, after its proven success in Africa. A beehive fence is a simple construction of beehives hung from posts and connected to each other with wire, surrounding an area to be protected. Trials have shown less crop raids when protected by beehive fencing.
This project is the first of its kind to be trialled as a deterrent for Asian Elephants and will work with farmers to establish and monitor beehive fencing and teach beekeeping skills. Farmers should benefit from reduced crop-raiding and improved harvests and also additional income generated from honey sales.
Protecting Wildlife in South Luangwa
Illegal snaring for bush meat in Zambia’s Luangwa Valley is widespread and represents a major threat to important non target species such as elephants, lions and African wild dogs. This project aims at reducing widespread illegal snaring activities and identifying and treating snared animals through supporting the community based village scout anti-poaching patrols, wildlife rescue of snared animals and aerial surveillance.
Wildlife Witness is focussed on combating illegal wildlife trade for greater protection of wildlife around the world including Sun Bears, Elephants and Rhinoceros.
Taronga launched the ‘Lend your eyes to the wild’, a global campaign encouraging zoo visitors to download the Wildlife Witness smartphone app, a tool for community action in the fight against illegal wildlife trade.
Taronga’s partnership with TRAFFIC Southeast Asia continued through their enforcement program and the Wildlife Crime Analyst. Wildlife Witness has contributed to 1200 intelligence reports, with over 250 reports passed onto enforcement agents for further action.