The international sustainability auditing organisation Travelife for Tour operators is developing a set of standards to help travellers and travel agents choose elephant camps that are providing good welfare for their elephants. As an organisation determined to ensure that tourism is a sustainable force for good throughout all aspects of the industry they rely on science and objectivity when building their standards. They have sought, among others, this working group’s advice to build their specific elephant camp welfare standard which, while not yet publicly available, is being tested and is already leading to improvements in elephant welfare in South East Asia. Their statement on the process is here: http://bit.ly/2zBdNbk
The IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG, www.asesg.org) is a global network of specialists involved with studying, monitoring, managing, and conserving Asian elephants. The overall aim of the AsESG is to promote the long-term conservation of Asia’s elephants and, where possible, the recovery of populations to viable levels. All AsESG members are actively involved in some aspect of elephant conservation and/or management. There currently are over 90 volunteers in the AsESG, including several members of the ACEWG (Dr. Janine Brown, Dr. Sonja Luz, Dr. Chatchote Thitaram, Dr. Khyne U Mar, Dr. Josh Plotnik and Dr. Susan Mikota).
The 9th meeting of IUCN SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG) was held 25-27 April 2018 at the Avani Riverside Hotel, Bangkok, Thailand to discuss the challenges, priorities and strategies for the conservation of Asian elephants in range countries. The meeting opened with welcome addresses by the IUCN Regional Director in Asia (Dr. T.P. Singh), Chair of the AsESG (Dr. Vivek Menon), and the Deputy Director General of the Thailand National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation organization (Dr. Pinsak Suraswadi). The first day focused on country reports of elephant population numbers and conservation priorities in Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, China, India, Indonesia, Laos PDR, Malaysia, Nepal, Sri Lanka, Thailand, and Vietnam. The next two days consisted of working group reports on elephant conservation action plans and developing management guidelines, several of which were convened by ACEWG members: Guidelines for elephant reintroduction (Thitaram); Guidelines for welfare and use of elephants in tourism (Thitaram, Luz, Brown); Management and care of captive elephants in musth (Brown, Thitaram); Management of EEHV in range countries (Luz).
Major challenges in elephant conservation are the illegal trade in elephants and elephant parts, and human-elephant conflict. Captive breeding can serve as a means to safeguard threatened wild species. ACEWG is proud to have a strong member representation in the AsESG and to have been recognized as a leader in efforts to develop scientific, evidence-based management protocols for elephants under human care. ACEWG works closely with organizations such as the AsESG to implement change.
Copies of the presentations by Dr Sonja Luz and Dr Janine Brown are available here: