Action research for conservation of Asian elephants in Bangladesh
The conservation of Asian elephants is vital to the maintenance of the biodiversity and ecological integrity of Bangladesh. It is estimated that there are 239 wild Asian elephants in the country.
The Asian elephant is a critically endangered species in Bangladesh. Conservation of the species is important as the elephant is a key indicator of a healthy ecosystem.
The population of wild elephants has declined significantly in the last two hundred years because of habitat fragmentation and destruction caused by the expansion of agriculture and human settlement. The growing pressure on elephant habitats and movement corridors has led to crop raids and human casualties, which has created negative public sentiment towards elephant conservation in Bangladesh.
IUCN Bangladesh, in association with the Government of Bangladesh and local communities, has been working to protect Asian elephants and conserve their habitats since 2001.
The project, currently in phase IV, is focused on mapping elephant movement routes and corridors, increasing community awareness and participation to improve habitat conditions for elephants, and reducing human-elephant conflict in South-East Bangladesh.
The successful completion of phases I to III has provided the project with solid data to continue its work. Phase IV is expected to conclude in July 2011.
- Map elephant movement routes and corridors, and areas of human-elephant conflict in the Chittagong Hill Tracts and Chittagong South Forest Division
- Liaise with government agencies to develop and implement strategies to reduce human-elephant conflict
- Conduct local, regional and national awareness programmes
- Explore opportunities for collaboration with different elephant conservation initiatives.
- Standardised methodologies used for elephant census
- Produced digitized maps of elephant movement routes and corridors and areas prone to human-elephant conflict in Cox’s Bazar North and South Forest Divisions
- Established fodder plantations in degraded forests to improve elephant habitats
- Erected road signs to alert vehicles to elephant crossings.
- Implemented bio-fencing in the Fashiakhali area to protect houses and crops
- Raised general awareness of contributing factors to human-elephant conflict through community meetings, school programmes and publication materials.
The project is supported by US Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS).