Asian Elephant and Tiger Conservation in Thailand

Donna and baby Sam the elephant

ZSL currently works in three protected areas within the Western Forest Conservation Complex (WEFCOM) located near the Myanmar border. WEFCOM is a priority area for tigers and many other species including Asian elephants and pangolin, as well as being an important watershed for Western Thailand. 

Human-wildlife conflict

Habitat destruction is common in Thailand. Remaining forests are under increasing pressure due to human activities. Unfortunately this brings the animals living in these forests into contact and conflict with people living nearby. In the area where ZSL works, and throughout the country, human wildlife conflict is becoming a major issue. Human-wildlife conflict with charismatic species such as elephants, gaur, and macaques regularly makes the news.
ZSL is working to monitor and mitigate conflict between humans and elephants around the boundaries of three protected areas: Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary, Sri Nakaren National Park and Chaloem Ratanakosin National Park. Approximately 200 Asian elephants live in this landscape. Historically, elephants and humans have coexisted with little conflict. But within the last fifteen years, incidents of conflict such as crop raiding and elephant/human deaths have increased.

Community outreach

Working closely with the Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, ZSL runs a comprehensive programme to monitor, mitigate and initiate community outreach to address conflict between humans and elephants. Through the development of new technologies and outreach initiatives, ZSL is currently working with community groups and protected area mangers to mitigate the effects of crop raiding. Currently, we focus on two main mitigation strategies: early warnings, using camera trap technology, and barriers, using electric fences and trenches.

By monitoring crop raiding incidents ZSL is developing models to predict raids, using data on raiding patterns, seasonality and elephant crop preferences. These models will be used to help local stakeholders make decisions about crop selection and land use planning.  

ZSL is also developing a conflict resolution model, based on our human-elephant conflict work, that can be used for other species in any landscape to reduce the occurrences and negative effects of these conflicts.  

Tiger conservation

Indochinese tigers have been known to live and breed in Huai Kha Khaeng Wildlife Sanctuary in the northern part of WEFCOM for many years, and the entire area is thought to be very important for this species.

Working with Thailand’s Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation, ZSL is conducting surveys to find out whether tigers are also using the forests in southern WEFCOM including Salakpra Wildlife Sanctuary, Srisawat Non-hunting Area, Sri Nakarin National Park and Charloem Ratanakosin National Park. This area has the potential to be an important dispersal area for tigers from Hui Kha Khaeng and is critical to the tiger conservation effort in this landscape.

With increased law enforcement activity, effective patrolling and sustainable prey populations this area could develop into an important tiger core area. The project has been successful so far, with tigers being captured on camera for the first time in various locations - read our news articles from September 2014 and June 2015 to find out more. 


Project information

Key species

Asian Elephant, Endangered

Indochinese tiger, Endangered

The Asian elephant is also an EDGE species, as a threatened species with a significant amount of unique evolutionary history.

People involved

Steve Paglia - Country Manager

Alex Godfrey 

Anchalee Sapantupong

Aroon Sukjitdee

Barbara Pollini 

Kittiwara Siripattaranukul 

Kusuma Polkaew

Porntipa Sukjitdee

Sasithorn Thampitak

Partners and Sponsors

Thailand Department of National Parks, Wildlife and Plant Conservation

Our work in Thailand is kindly funded by the Cecil King Memorial Fund, Estate of Geoffrey Adams, Foundation of Prince William and Prince Harry, Friedman French Foundation, Panthera, Taiwan Forestry Bureau, UNDP Thailand, USFWS Asian Elephant Fund, and World Animal Protection