Thursday, 2 May 2013

Camera trap footage of Asian elephants in Cambodia

Elephants filmed in Cambodia's Seima Protection Forest
April 2013. A series of remote camera traps in Cambodia's Seima Protection Forest have provided an intimate glimpse of families of wild Asian elephants; the cameras were placed by The Wildlife Conservation Society (WCS). 

The footage shows elephant families wandering through the jungle, wallowing in mud holes, feeding, and playing. The footage was collected during biodiversity monitoring work by WCS and the Cambodian Government's Forestry Administration, and filmed by Daniel Morawska, WCS's Seima Management Advisor. 

Haven for cats and other species
Seima was once a draw for loggers. It is now a haven for 23 carnivore species, including seven cat species, two bears, and the Asian wild dog. The country's government transformed the former logging concession into a Yosemite-sized protected area in 2009. WCS worked closely with Cambodian governmental agencies to help create the protected area and continues to provide support to ensure the sustainable management of forests and biodiversity. 

Covering more than 1,100 square miles along Cambodia's eastern border with Vietnam, Seima is the country's first protected area designed to conserve forest carbon as one of its key goals. WCS is helping to measure carbon stocks contained in the forest to calculate the amount of greenhouse gas emissions it keeps out of the atmosphere. 

Joe Walston, WCS Executive Director for the Asia Program, said "These beautiful images in Seima Protection Forest are a visual testimony of what conservation success can look like." 

Significant population
WCS pioneered the use of genetic fingerprints obtained from dung to monitor elephant numbers in Seima, working with Professor Lori Eggert from the University of Missouri in the U.S. and the Cambodian authorities. This effort found that Seima contained a regionally significant population both in terms of numbers and genetic diversity, but the animals are still elusive and rarely seen. While working in the protected area in 2010, wildlife photographer Allan Michaud took the first high-quality footage ever filmed of a wild elephant in Cambodia. 

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