Asian elephants are Thailand’s national animal, and an endangered species. Native populations continue to be seriously threatened by the loss of natural habitats and poaching for ivory and parts. The conflict between humans and elephants has become a very important issue in dealing with conservation of natural resources today because of dramatic growth in human population size and urban development.
This increase in development has caused fragmentation of the wild elephants’ habitat. Such conditions increase chance encounters with elephants in many countries, including Thailand, and subsequently increasing human-elephant conflict.
The conflict between humans and elephants has been presented as a key priority in wildlife management and natural resource management issues, as it affects the survival of wild elephants and the well-being of local communities. Usually, conflict arises when elephants invade and destroy agricultural crops or property- of residents, causing economic losses.
Farmers and Asian Wild Elephants in Kaeng Krachan National Park
Farmers are required to watch their agricultural areas and property at night and may encounter wild elephants. Subsequent incidents of aggression or conflict may cause local communities to have a bad attitude towards wildlife conservation areas, wild elephants, and administrative staff.
Asian elephants can live in a wide range of areas
Asian elephants can live in a wide range of areas from grassland to dense forest. The size of the area used and the type of foods they cat are based on gender, age. region, and season.
Female elephants have a home range size of 184-326 square kilometers, while male elephants occupy a home range of 188-407 square kilometers, though home ranges in Sri Lanka were found to be smaller. Elephants spend between 14-19 hours per day foraging. In one day they can eat up to 150-200 kilograms of food, and excrete dung 16-18 times. creating more than 100 kg of elephant manure. which acts as a natural fertilizer.
Asian elephants walk long distances
Asian elephants walk long distances to forage and play an important role in dispersing seeds far from the parent tree, particularly larger seeds which could otherwise not be dispersed. Elephant dung is also an important food source for a variety of wildlife, particularly insects – in the Khao Ang Rue Nai Wildlife Sanctuary, a research study by Dr. Sawai Wonghongsa found at least 29 families of insects living in the dung.
Elephants are an umbrella species whose management benefits many other species due to their large home range requirements. Additionally, they play a role as a flagship species – a primary icon the conservation of a threatened area.