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Wild Elephants at Kui Buri National Park

Asian Elephant is a Legacy Species and Taronga is committed to its conservation in Sumatra. Holistic strategy is being developed.

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 Elephants around the world.

Some of these projects include:

Northern Rangeland 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.

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

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.

Establishment of elephant food farm in Way Kambas Elephant Conservation Centre (Save Indonesian Endangered Species)

The population of wild elephants in Way Kambas National Park (WKNP) is estimated at about 200. However due to ongoing bush meat poaching and human-elephant conflict the elephants live at considerable risk. Abandoned or injured elephants are rescued and taken to the WKNP Elephant Conservation Centre (ECC). Once rescued and in human care, these elephants can no longer be released back into the wild. Currently almost 70 elephants are directly supported by the ECC. These elephants are used for breeding, patrol work and education:

- The ECC manages a stud-book for genetic history of Sumatran elephant families.

- Bull elephants are used to patrol the park boundary from poachers and wild elephants leaving the park in search of food. This work is done by Elephant Response Units, which push the wild elephants back to the park, and search and destroy snares and traps.

- City visitors come to the ECC to picnic, observe the elephants and watch the mahouts go through their training. Mahouts train the elephants to undertake tasks which ensure they remain manageable for health checks and patrol work.

Currently the Indonesian government pays the ECC an allocation for feeding the elephants. The food volume, quality and nutritional value is low and consequently the elephants remain hungry and their health suffers accordingly. WKNP managers want to develop an elephant food farm, providing a wide variety of high volume, fresh cut, nutritious foods will dramatically improve the elephant health. Further, the project will employ 240 local villagers impacted by crop raiding by wild elephants, improving villager financial security, therefore improving village economy and attitude to elephant conservation. The farm will be financially sustainable because it has support for long term funding by the Indonesian government from its annual elephant food allocation. This project, part of the bigger picture to preserve the Sumatran elephant species, will deliver improved sustainable nutrition for the elephants in care and orphaned baby elephants, sustainable income for local villagers as well as improved nutrition and support for the local Elephant Response Unit.