The intimate behavior of wild Asian elephant families is revealed in new camera trap footage from Cambodia's Seima Protection Forest.
The video, released today by The Wildlife Conservation Society, shows elephant families wandering through this forest, wallowing in mud holes, feeding and playing. The footage is in stark contrast to scenes of elephant poaching and habitat loss in other areas of the world.
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"We released this footage on Earth Day to show that if we work together, conservationists, governments and local communities can save elephants," Joe Walston, WCS executive director for the Asia Program. "These beautiful images in Seima Protection Forest are a visual testimony of what conservation success can look like."
Seima was once teeming with loggers. In 2009, however, the WCS worked closely with Cambodian governmental agencies to help establish the now-protected area.
The area is about the same size as Yosemite and is home to 23 carnivore species, including seven cats, two bears and the Asian wild dog. The forest covers more than 1,100 square miles and exists along Cambodia's eastern border with Vietnam.
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For each elephant, a "genetic fingerprint" is created by studying their fecal material. Lori Eggert from the University of Missouri, along with Cambodian authorities, used that info to determine that Seima contains what they say is "a regionally significant population, both in terms of numbers and genetic diversity."
In contrast, a 10-year study co-authored by the WCS and many other organizations showed a 62 percent decline in numbers of Central Africa's forest elephants, due primarily to ivory poaching. That study was released just last month.
Image: Young elephants playing together at another site in Laos; Credit: Sophie47, Wikimedia Commons