Efforts to protect Asian elephant populations in Cambodia had for a long time been hampered by a lack of credible information on population levels and trends, distribution, and movement patterns. However, monitoring work launched in 2006 not only provided the first robust estimate of elephant population size for Cambodia, but also highlighted the importance of the one of Cambodia's elephant populations within the Greater Mekong Region.
The study was implemented in the Seima Protection Forest (SPF), in the Eastern Plains of Cambodia. It showed that the elephant population there is genetically diverse, and therefore has the potential to recover further if the remaining elephant habitat can be effectively protected against human encroachment and deforestation. Furthermore, the study identified a number of key locations within the SPF, mostly in proximity to water sources, that are frequently used by elephants at particular points in the year.
Project activities now focus on protecting and monitoring these 'hotspots' in order to allow elephant numbers to increase, and further monitoring studies are planned in both SPF and the Northern Plains landscape.