Asian elephants are the largest land mammal next to their african cousins, and an important keystone species. Globally endangered, they are particularly threatened in Southeast Asia and China, with only about 8,000-11,000 wild elephants sharing space in some of the most densely populated countries: Cambodia, China, Laos, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, Thailand and Viet Nam.
Known as "ecosystem engineers and gardeners of the forest," wild Asian elephants play a crucial role dispersing seeds and nutrients through their dung as they move around, create pathways in dense forests, and change the forest terrain for the benefit of other animals. Even their footprints can form small ecosystems that serve as habitats for organisms like tadpoles.
Habitat loss and degradation, loss of range connectivity, negative interactions with people and poaching have caused alarming population declines, with some countries having only hundreds of individuals left in the wild where there may once have been thousands. Urgent action is needed to halt these declines, protect wild elephants, and foster sustainable levels of coexistence.
WWF is launching an ambitious regional conservation alliance which aims to tackle the threats faced by wild elephants in Southeast Asia and China by addressing the drivers of population declines, habitat loss, and human-wildlife conflict. In partnership with governments, private companies, and communities living in close proximity to wild elephant populations, this alliance seeks to secure and restore wild elephant habitats and improve human-elephant conflict management to have thriving elephant and human communities.