Threats to wild elephants
No room to roam
A major threat to wild Asian elephants is habitat loss and fragmentation. Throughout the tropics, humans have cleared large areas of forest and have rapidly populated river valleys and plains.
Elephants have been pushed into hilly landscapes and less suitable remnants of forest, but even these less accessible habitats are being assaulted by poachers, loggers, and developers.
Habitat conflict with humans
When elephants stray out of the forest into settled areas, they sometimes destroy property, trample crops and even kill people.
Farmers often respond with gunfire or poison. In the face of rapidly growing human populations, the Asian elephants' habitat is shrinking fast and wild elephant populations are mostly small, isolated and unable to mingle as ancient migratory routes are cut off by human settlements.
The international ivory trade has contributed far more to the decline of African elephants than Asian ones over the last few decades. Still, the people of Asia have a 500-year tradition of ivory carving and often hunt males for their tusks.
Capture of young elephants
Many young elephants are taken from the wild to supply the tourist and entertainment industries. In the process, mothers and other members of the herd who try to protect the young calf from being taken from them are often killed.
Many calves captured for such purposes are prematurely weaned, socially isolated or otherwise cruelly treated, and die before they reach age five.