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IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group jointly host side events for the conservation of Asian Elephants at CMS CoP13

The IUCN SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG) along with the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, Wildlife Institute of India, CMS, IUCN and Wildlife Trust of India organized a side event to discuss on Elephant conservation beyond borders on 18th February 2020. About 90 people attended the Side event. The speakers included

  • Mr Noyal Thomas, IGF and Director Project Elephant, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India spoke on Conservation of elephants across borders- Successes and challenges: Indian experience)
  • Mr Vivek Menon, Chair IUCN SSC Asian Elephant Specialist Group & Executive Director & CEO Wildlife Trust of India spoke on Transboundary movement of elephants in South Asia.
  • Mr. Raquibul Amin, Country Representative, IUCN Bangladesh & Ms. Andrea Dekrout, Programme Management Officer, CMS Secretariat spoke on Co-existence of elephants and people in Cox’s Bazar District, Bangladesh.
  • Mr Sonam Wangdi, Chief Forestry Officer, Nature Conservation Division, Department of Forests and Park Services, Bhutan spoke on Transboundary conservation through Indo-Bhutan Peace Parks

All the representatives stressed upon the need for intergovernmental collaboration to ensure protection to elephants that move across these landscapes. Mr Noyal Thomas informed on the threats to elephant conservation in India and the initiatives undertaken by India to conserve the species. He informed that India is working with the Government of Bangladesh, Bhutan and Nepal on transboundary conservation of the species. Mr Vivek Menon, Chair AsESG and Executive Director, WTI hailed the Government of India’s proposal to declare Asian elephant as a migratory species and urged all parties to CMS to support the pledge. He also emphasized on the need of minimizing conflict and securing migratory passages. Mr Raquibul Amin suggested taking lesson from Bangladesh where sudden and massive trans-border movement of displaced human population from Myanmar triggered both humanitarian and environmental crisis including severe human-elephant conflict. Such mass displacement is more likely to happen due to climate change and conflict. Conservation organizations should actively partner with humanitarian sector to plan and build each other capacity to tackle conservation issues during humanitarian operations. Andrea from UNHCR also supported the idea. Mr Sonam Wangdi spoke about transboundary protected areas and Peace Park initiatives by the Government of Bhutan and India that would significantly help in habitat and species conservation.

A second side event on Asian Elephant Conservation: prospects and Challenges was organized on 20th February 2020. This was organized in the India Pavilion by Project Elephant Division, Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change along with Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG) and the Wildlife Institute of India.

Mr Noyal Thomas, IGF and Director Project Elephant, Ministry of Environment, Forest & Climate Change, Government of India explain the status of elephants and conservation challenges in India and highlighted habitat fragmentation and human-elephant conflict as a major challenge. He outlined the conservation initiatives undertak en by India to conserve elephants and its habitat including securing corridors, habitat management and transboundary cooperation.

Dr Sandeep Kr Tiwari, Program Manager, IUCN SSC AsESG spoke on the global status of Asian Elephants, threats and the role of AsESG in assisting the conservation initiatives by the Range States. Although Habitat loss and fragmentation and increased human-elephant conflict is a major threat across range states, the illegal killing of elephants for ivory and skin trade is another major concern in few South East Asian Range States.

Mr Gobinda Roy, Deputy Chief Conservator of Forest, Bangladesh informed that the influx of Rohingya refugees and their rehabilitation in Bangladesh has created a huge challenge for human and wildlife. About 8000 acres of prime elephant habitat in Cox-bazar has been used to rehabilitate the refugees from Myanmar that includes two key identified elephant corridors. This has severely impacting the habitat and has increased human-elephant conflict. Dr Tharaka, Director DWS, Sri Lanka informed that Sri Lanka has about 6000 elephants and human elephant conflict is a major concern. On an average about 250 elephants and 70-80 human death by elephants reported every year. Cause of elephant mortality are gun-shot injuries, eexplosive device called “hakkapatas”, poisoning and train accident. He also briefed on the conservation initiatives of the DWS.

Mr Matthew Collis, Director International Policy, International Fund for Animal Welfare (IFAW) spoke about the importance of having Asian elephants in CMS. Emphasizing the need to facilitate movement, he briefed how IFAW-WTI has been working to identify and secure elephant corridors in India. He also spoke on the need of according legal protection to corridors and also hopes that many Asian elephant range states will now work more closely together to protect this species.


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