In Mondolkiri Province, Asian Wild Elephants Are Thriving

New York-based organization Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS) has released some remarkable footage of wild Asian elephants in Mondolkiri’s Seima district that offers a rare view of the endangered species in its natural habitat.

The video was released to mark Earth Day on Monday and shows that Cambodia’s elephant population is thriving.

In the first clip, a herd of 16 elephants—large and small—tramps along a well-forged forest path, passing by one of several camera traps that were set up near watering holes by WCS’ seima management adviser Dan­iel Morawska.

Another video clip, titled Moment of Zen: Peaceful Elephants in Cambodia, shows the elephants scrabbling around with their trunks in a dustier patch of jungle.

One particularly playful pachyderm—a youngster—jumps up and wrestles another just before two mature elephants and a calf cross through a pond.

“The Wildlife Conservation Society released video footage today collected from a series of remote camera traps that gives an intimate glimpse of families of wild Asian elephants living in a protected area in Cambodia,” WCS said in a statement, adding that the images were captured as part of a biodiversity monitoring project carried out by WCS and the forestry administration.

“We released this footage on Earth Day to show that if we work together, conservationists, governments, and local communities can save elephants,” Joe Walston, WCS executive director for the Asia Program, said in the statement. “These beautiful images in Seima Protection Forest are a visual testimony of what conservation success can look like.”

According to WCS senior technical adviser Alex Dimant, a 2006 DNA study discovered there were 116 elephants living in Seima.

“There’s no evidence that it has declined, no reports of elephant killings,” he said Tuesday by telephone. “They’re not being hunted or poached; the threat is in the form of habitat loss and encroachment,” he added.

More DNA was extracted from elephant dung about a year or two ago, he said, and the results are pending.

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