Securing a shared future for wildlife and people

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Josie Montgomery with Asian Elephant

World Elephant Day is on Sunday 12 August and aims to raise awareness for the plight of elephants in the wild. There is estimated to be approximately 40,000 Asian Elephants remaining in the wild mainly due to habitat loss, human-elephant conflict and poaching.

Taronga Western Plains Zoo is playing its part to help conserve this species through the regional conservation breeding program as well as in the field, funding wildlife protection units and ranger stations in Thailand and Sumatra to help supress elephant poaching.

I am very lucky to get to work with elephants every day, they all have different personalities so every day is different but also very rewarding. Our elephants range between the ages of two months to the early 60s, so it is definitely unique!

There has been so many memorable moments across my three years working with elephants at Taronga Western Plains Zoo, that it is hard to pick just one or two! My first day at work I worked with Gigi and it was something I will never forget, but seeing Sabai and Kanlaya’s birth as well as the elephants arriving from Taronga Zoo were all special. Our herd has grown from two elephants to now nine in the space of those three years, which has been amazing.

Elephants are an incredibly intelligent species and I really enjoy that you can build a strong rapport with them despite the fact they are all very different in personality.

I hope that from World Elephant Day people learn more about our elephants, the regional conservation breeding program and the plight of elephants in the wild and what they can do to help.

To help support elephants in the wild you can download the Wildlife Witness App for your smart phone. The app allows tourists traveling overseas to easily report illegal wildlife trade by taking a photo, pinning the exact location of an incident and sending these important details to TRAFFIC to investigate. This could include jewellery or ornaments made from ivory tusks.

It is so important that we protect these amazing animals and ensure they do not continue to decline in the wild.

By Elephant Keeper, Josie Montgomery

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