Demography and Status of Asian Elephants

Demography and Status of Asian Elephants

A meeting organised by the Food and Agricultural Organisation of the United Nations in Bangkok (2001) on captive elephant management, drew attention to the present status of ownership pattern, legal aspects, management skills, veterinary services and a host of other issues associated with elephant management in the range countries. The summary of country reports compiled by FAO in connection with this workshop (Baker & Kashio 2001) gives reasonably comprehensive view of the status and demography of Asian elephants in range countries (See Appendix).

The Asian elephant is a threatened species and is included in the Red List of Mammals (IUCN), Appendix I (CITES), Schedule I (Wildlife Protection Act, 1972; India) and several other national legislation. An estimated population of 45-50,000 wild and 16-18,000 captive Asian elephants are distributed in thirteen Asian range countries, India, Nepal, Bhutan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka, Myanmar, Thailand, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam, Southern China (Unan), Malaysia (including Peninsular Malaysia and Sabah) and Indonesia (Sumatra and Kalimantan). The largest number of captive elephants is in Myanmar with ~6,000 followed by India and Thailand with ~3,700 and ~2,600 respectively. All range countries highlighted the requirement of capacity building at the level of mahout as well as of veterinarians.

Existing problems of the captive elephants in Asian range countries include, decrease in number, lack of law enforcement for welfare measures, human-elephant conflict, absence of captive breeding and under utilisation.


Approximate past and present distribution of the Asian elephant