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Friends of Conservation
60, Strand,
London, WC2N 5LR
Tel: 020 3667 7017
Email: focinfo@aol.com

Although Thailand has over 100 protected areas covering around 15% of the country, all these have subsistence farming communities around them and most have settlements within them. Illegal hunting, harvesting forest products and logging are rife. It is essential to the conservation of the Asian elephant and its habitat to find ways of establishing mutually beneficial relationships with the communities in and around protected areas. Local communities which are currently heavily dependent on the natural resources in the protected forests that are involved in the local project will benefit from this projects conservation related activities.

Human-elephant conflict and a lack of local benefits are major constraints to elephant conservation in Asia. African countries have made much greater progress in the involvement of local communities in conservation efforts and there are now a number of successful models of community-based elephant conservation, conflict resolution and benefit-sharing in east and southern Africa. Although this work could provide potential solutions for Asian elephant conservation, unfortunately there are few mechanisms for collaboration between the continents.

With the assistance of funding from the Darwin Award, Belinda and Matt recently undertook a trip to Thailand visit the proposed project sites and take the initial steps to set up the project. Once established, their work can be used as a model for community-based conservation initiatives and sustainable development in south-east Asia and Indo-China.

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