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Asian Elephant Specialist Group-2018 Meeting :

The 9th Meeting of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG) was held at the Avani Riverside Hotel in Bangkok, Thailand from April 25 to 27, 2018. Discussions on priorities and strategies for Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) conservation took center stage during the three-day meeting, which was attended by about 131 people including 55 AsESG members, 13 Government officials from all Asian elephant range countries, 18 potential AsESG members and 45 invitees from across the globe. The Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation (DNP), Government of Thailand provided the local support to organize the meeting.

Addressing the members, the Hon’ble Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Kingdom of Thailand General Surasak Karnjanarat said that the meeting provides a good opportunity for experts on Asian Elephants to look at various aspects of the wild and captive populations and to provide technical support to governments and others on long-term conservation of Asian Elephants. Thailand has developed the Twenty Years National Master Plan for the Conservation of Elephants to address best practices for the sustainable conservation of wild and captive elephants.

Welcoming the guests, the Deputy Regional Director of IUCN Asia, Dr T. P. Singh, informed that the uniqueness and value of IUCN Species Survival Commission and its Specialist Group like the Asian Elephant Specialist Group embodies the spirit of IUCN’s ‘One Programme Approach’. Through this approach IUCN will continue to play its convening role and bring together Governments, Civil Society, Research organisations, Universities and other stakeholders to work together to assist with addressing emerging transboundary conservation challenges in the long term conservation and management of Asian Elephants. Chairing the meeting, Mr Vivek Menon, Chair AsESG spoke about the importance of the AsESG to save the flagship species. He said “it is greatly heartening to see the assemblage of such skill and passion among the members of the AsESG. As a group of scientists and experts, it is our duty to use these attributes to ensure the survival of the Asian elephants for generations to come.”

At the meeting, the chair presented on the work done by the Group since the last meeting in Guwahati and the work plan till 2020. The Status of elephants in all 13 range countries was presented by the Range Country officials. The outcome of all the 12 Working Groups formed by the Chair was also presented by the Working Group conveners and the final outcome documents are expected by early 2019 except on HEC. The Group also discussed on the need to have more Working Groups to address the other aspects of elephant conservation and the challenges faced.

The issue of the influx of Rohingya refugees on elephant habitat in Bangladesh and the crisis that has gripped the world both from a humanitarian point of view as well as ecological point of view were also presented by the IUCN Bangladesh Country Head. They are investigating the impact of the refugee on wildlife habitat and how to minimize the resultant increase of HEC in the region. The Chair has also formed the AsESG Working Group to prepare plan to address the issue.

Other issues that were discussed during the meeting include - DNA based registration of captive elephants, research and progress for managing Elephant endotheliotropic Herpes virus (EEHV), impact of linear infrastructures on elephant habitat and mitigation approaches, illegal trade of live elephant and body parts, especially elephant skin trade in Myanmar.

Field Visit

The meeting was followed by two optional post conference field tour to Kui Buri National Park and Khao Sam Roi Yod marine National Park on 28 th and 29 th April 2018


The Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG) is a global network of specialists concerned with the study, monitoring, management, and conservation of Asian elephants (Elephas maximus) in its 13 range states