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Asian Elephant Nations Meet To Discuss Species' Survival

This family of elephants is under growing threat from Humans.
by Staff Writers
Kuala Lumpur (AFP) Jan 29, 2006
Thirteen Asian countries with wild elephants met as a group in Malaysia for the first time last week to discuss the survival of the species as expanding human populations encroach on its habitat.

The aim of the meeting was to reach a consensus on effective ways to tackle the serious threats facing the continent's largest mammal.

The gathering was facilitated by the World Conservation Union (IUCN) which warned that the situation facing the Asian elephant was critical.

"Just over five percent of the original Asian elephant habitat remains today, and its population has declined over the past half century to an estimated 30,000-50,000 animals in the wild," it said in a statement.

This is just 10 to 15 percent of the African elephant population.

Participants agreed that international cooperation was necessary to protect the creatures' dwindling habitat to secure the species' future.

Ajay Desai, co-chair of ICUN's Species Survival Commission, said the Asian elephant required much larger areas of natural range than most other terrestrial mammals in Asia.

"... there was a need for long-term land use planning strategies taking into account the species biological needs; otherwise we shall keep seeing the elimination of elephant populations in large parts of its range," he said.

South and Southeast Asia have the highest human population density in the world, with numbers increasing by between one and three percent each year.

Other threats include selective poaching of tusked males for ivory, which results in skewed male-female ratios in many populations.

"The conservation of the Asian elephant will require a pragmatic synergy of scientific knowledge, cultural pride, and political will. We hope we have managed to bring all these factors together at this meeting," said Holly Dublin, chair of the ICUN's Species Survival Commission.

The Asian elephant states comprise Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos, Malaysia, Myanmar, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand and Vietnam.

Source: Agence France-Presse

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