Thai elephant population is rising at 7 percent a year

Good news for elephants in Thailand as their numbers are steadily on the rise at an average rate of 7 percent annually, said Mr Sunthorn Chayawattana, director of Wildlife Conservation of the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plants Conservation, on Monday.

According to the last census which was undertaken several years ago, there were between 3,500-4,000 elephants scattering in 68 forests or seven forest complexes as follows: 400-600 elephants in the western forest complex which include Kaeng Krachan, Salak Phra and Huey Kha Kheng; 300-400 elephants in eastern forest complex bordering five provinces; 500-600 elephants in northeastern forest complex and Dong Phaya Yen and Khao Yai forest complex; 100-150 elephants in Klong Saeng-Khao Sok southern forest complex and 110-300 elphants in northern forest complex.

As the situation stands now, there is no danger of elephants becoming extinct in Thailand, but the main challenge now is how to manage elephant population and its habitats to prevent elephants from getting out of their habitats into human communities, said Mr Sunthorn, adding, however, the problem is now under control and there is no need for elephants to be evacuated.

With elephant population increasing at an average rate of 7 percent per annum, it was estimated that, in the next 10 years, the numbers of elephants are expected to increase by 670-680.

Dr Manthana Srikrachang, an independent elephant expert, said that food scarcity was not the only cause which has driven elephants out of their habitats to human environments. There are other causes as well such as the behavior of the jumbos.

In the past, she said measures which were meted out to deal with wandering elephants mainly focused on the elephants instead of focusing on human beings such as elephant trenches to prevent elephants from trespassing.