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Wild Elephant Conservation

The Asian elephant (Elephas maximus) is classified as Endangered by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN). Their population has declined by an estimated 50 percent over the past 75 years, and there are only an estimated 20,000 to 40,000 Asian elephants left in the wild. 


Elephant Care International supports the long-term conservation of wild elephant populations. Our work:

  • Mitigates disease transmission to wild elephants

  • Helps to train the next generation of elephant veterinarians and conservation leaders

  • Provides service to the Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG)

  • Supports projects that aim to rescue, rehabilitate and re-wild elephants

Asian elephants are found in the wild in only 13 countries. Wild populations are often small and fragmented and face an insecure future. As humans encroach on elephant habitat and convert more land to agriculture, human-elephant conflict is inevitable. Crops may be damaged and villagers may lose their lives.  Elephants face retribution from angry farmers and may be shot or poisoned. Often overlooked has been the possibility that diseases like tuberculosis or herpes virus may also take their toll on wild populations. Not long ago, these diseases were unheard of in the wild. That has now changed. 

Elephant field lab Myanmar

Mitigating Tuberculosis (TB) Transmission

Tuberculosis (TB) is a threat to captive elephants everywhere. This disease is of special concern in Asian elephant range countries like Nepal where captive and wild elephants intermingle during grazing or breeding and where captive elephants come into close contact with wild rhinos during tourist activities. Read about ECI’s Tuberculosis Surveillance Program in Nepal.

Asian Elephant Specialist Group

The IUCN Asian Elephant Specialist Group (AsESG, is a global network of specialists involved with studying, monitoring, managing, and conserving Asian elephants. The overall aim of the AsESG is to promote the long-term conservation of Asia’s elephants and, where possible, the recovery of populations to viable levels. All AsESG members are actively involved in some aspect of elephant conservation and/or management. There currently are over 90 volunteers in the AsESG, Elephant Care International co-founders have been members of the Asian Elephant Specialist Group since 2001. 


In 2016, ECI Executive Director Hank Hammatt was recognized by the AsESG for his eight years of service as webmaster, creating and updating the AsESG website.


Dr. Mikota (third from the left in the above photo) has worked on several AsESG task forces charged with developing Guidelines for Musth Management; Guidelines for the Management and Welfare of Captive Asian Elephants Used in Tourism; and Guidelines for Emerging Diseases Affecting Asian Elephants.

Asian Elephant Specialist Group Meeting
Asian Elephant Specialist Group award to Hank Hammatt

Elephant Conservation Resources

The Elephant Care International bibliographic database includes numerous citations on conservation topics including human-elephant conflict. If you are interested in a specific topic please send us message and we can search our database for you. Go to database.

Elephant mother and calf

Please consider a donation to help us support the conservation of endangered Asian elephants in the wild.  DONATE HERE!

Supporting Elephant Conservation, Re-wilding & Repopulation

"Mahouts Matter" ~ This blog, written by ECI friend and colleague Anabel Lopez Perez, a wildlife biologist at the Elephant Conservation Center (ECC) in Laos, tells the story of her organization's work to rescue, rehabilitate and re-wild captive elephants--and to repopulate wild elephant populations. It underscores the importance of the hard work of mahouts in achieving their mission. ECI's Dr. Susan Mikota, Dr. Janine Brown, and Hollis Burbank-Hammarlund provided critical funding to help sustain the ECC's work during the COVID-19 pandemic through our collaborative Elephant Healthcare and  Welfare Emergency Lifeline Fund. ECI continues to support the work of the ECC. Click here to read Anabel's GoodTourismBlog article.

Elephants and mahouts in Laos
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