ASIAN elephants maintain a significant presence in the Kingdom, despite indications of very high extinction risk, according to Ministry of Environment spokesman Neth Pheaktra on July 2.
Also known by their scientific name Elephas maximus, the pachyderms have been classified as ‘endangered’ in the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s (IUCN) Red List since 1986.
Pheaktra pointed out that cameras in the Kingdom’s protected natural area have captured the giant mammals on numerous occasions, even calves.
“These calves are the hope of conservationists and environmentalists in Cambodia and the result of forest and habitat protection, as well as efforts to safeguard the Asian elephant,” Pheaktra said.
Asian elephants are the largest living land animal in Asia, with tusks that can grow as long as 1m, according to experts. They have five toes on each foot, but typically only have four nails on their back feet, though not without exception.
There are an estimated 400-600 elephants in the Kingdom, mainly concentrated in the Cardamom mountain range, the northern plateau of the Tonle Sap Lake and the eastern highlands of Mondulkiri province, which are rich in biodiversity, according to Pheaktra.
He said more than 70 elephants have been domesticated.
As a token of its commitment to protecting the dwindling population of the hulking animals, the Kingdom in 2005 created the Cambodian Elephant Conservation Group, he said.
And providing further evidence of devotion, Pheaktra noted that the 2020-2029 Action Plan for the Conservation of Asian Elephants was set up with a budget of around $40.5 million from the government, NGOs and development partners.