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New data released by the Wildlife Conservation Society and Malaysia’s
Department of Wildlife and National Parks (DWNP) reveals that a
population of endangered Asian elephants living in a Malaysian park may
be the largest in Southeast Asia.
WCS and DWNP researchers estimate that there are 631 Asian elephants
living in Taman Negara National Park – a 4,343 square kilometer (1,676
square mile) protected area in the center of Peninsular Malaysia. The
new results confirm the largest-known population of elephants remaining
in Southeast Asia.
The WCS/DWNP team counted elephant dung piles to estimate population
size—a scientifically proven technique that produces accurate figures.
There were no previous scientific population surveys for elephants in
the park, according to DWNP and WCS.
“The surveys reveal the importance of Taman Negara in protecting
wildlife especially those species that need large home ranges. DWNP will
continue to safeguard this national park, which is the crown jewel of
Malaysia’s protected areas system. The numbers of elephants is testament
to the importance of the park in protecting wildlife,” said Dato’
Rasid, Director-General of the Department of Wildlife and National
“This new survey shows that Taman Negara National Park is one of the
great strongholds for Asian elephants in Southeast Asia,” said Dr.
Melvin Gumal, Director of the Wildlife Conservation Society’s
conservation programs in Malaysia.
“People were unsure of how many elephants lived in the park before
our survey, although there were good reasons to think that the
population was substantial.”
The park, which contains one of the world’s oldest rainforests—dating
back 130 million years, also supports tigers, leopards, dholes,
numerous monkey species, and 350 types of birds.
Asian elephants are endangered due to habitat loss and poaching;
between 30,000 and 50,000 may remain in 13 Asian countries.
The Department of Wildlife and National Parks protects wildlife and
manages federal protected areas throughout Peninsular Malaysia, and the
Wildlife Conservation Society works to protect Asian elephants
throughout their Asian range.
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