Cooperating closely with the Wildlife Conservation Society WCS, Zurich Zoo supports Kaeng Krachan National Park in Thailand as it protects the animals living there. At the heart of our commitment is the aim of defusing the conflict between humans and elephants. In addition to protective fences, which prevent the elephants intruding into populated areas, an information centre has been set up to make school classes and local visitors more aware of nature conservation. Additionally, we support the gamekeepers at Kaeng Krachan National Park in the fight against poachers by funding equipment and training courses.
Covering an area of almost 3,000 square kilometres, Kaeng Krachan National Park is the largest conservation area in Thailand. Almost 200 wild elephants live in the park. Kaeng Krachan National Park and other conservation areas in the north incorporate the largest and most species-rich forest areas in the whole of South-East Asia. By setting up wild animal corridors in association with other conservation areas, the national park will help preserve the elephants' traditional migration routes over the long term and preserve tigers, gibbons, tapirs and other endangered animal and plant species.
Asian elephants were originally distributed from Syria to China, as well as in Sri Lanka, Sumatra and Borneo. Today, the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) estimates that the survival of these elephants in the wild is critically endangered. In some regions of South-East Asia, the species is on the verge of extinction. In Thailand, the population in the wild is estimated at about 3,000 animals. Several factors exert pressure on the population levels. Not only are the bulls targeted by poachers because of their tusks, but the elephants’ habitat is fast disappearing due to logging and the expansion of agricultural cultivation.
Agriculture is destroying the traditional feeding grounds and migration routes of wild elephants in many places. The animals therefore cause severe damage to plantations, houses and cattle on their migrations. This leads to conflicts that can be significantly reduced by protective fences and sentry posts. Alarmed fences have been erected along the border of the national park. If the elephants break through these fences, a loud alarm sounds and the warning light flashes, and the sentry guards drive the elephants back into the forest. The limited length of the fence means that the animals can continue their migration after a detour. In some regions, conflicts have been reduced by up to 90%.
A 75-kilometre migratory corridor has been designed to give the elephants from Kaeng Krachan National Park a safe route to conservation areas in northern Thailand. Zurich Zoo, in close cooperation with the Wildlife Conservation Society WCS, supports the park's gamekeepers in their fight against poachers, deforestation and illegal use of the land.