Survey of Wild Elephants Set to Begin in Mondolkiri

The largest ever survey of elephants roaming Cambodia’s eastern plains will be launched Thursday in Mondolkiri province, according to an NGO involved in the project.

Alex Diment, senior technical adviser at the Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS), said that threats to the elephants’ habitat have increased in recent years, making it “critical” to accurately monitor the population.

To conduct the fieldwork, set to finish at the end of May, a team of 25 people will undertake two days of training starting Friday at a Mondolkiri-based NGO.

There they will “learn the important field-skills, practicing on samples from the nine resident elephants at the ‘Elephant Valley Project,’” Mr. Diment said in an email.

According to the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List, which records the status of threatened species, there are between 250 and 600 wild Asian elephants left in Cambodia, most of them in Mondolkiri and neighboring Ratanakkiri province.

A WCS survey in 2006 found 116 elephants in Mondolkiri’s Seima Protection Forest.

Another study three years later by the World Wildlife Foundation counted 157 elephants in the Phnom Prich Wildlife Sanctuary and the Mondolkiri Protected Forest.

This time, the organizations will work together to conduct what Mr. Diment de­scribed as “the largest comprehensive survey of Asian elephants ever done.”

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