Asian elephants' forest habitat loses over 67,000 sq km in 18 years: study

2022-08-19 Editor:Zhao Li

(ECNS) -- The forest habitat of Asian elephants lost about 67,635 square kilometers from 2001 to 2018, accounting for about 13.4 percent of their habitat in 2000, says the International Research Center of Big Data for Sustainable Development Goals.

It suggests that habitat loss for Asian elephants is far worse than expected.

The data were revealed in a paper themed on the habitat changes of Asian elephants since the 21st century, which was published in the latest academic journal Science Bulletin.

A total of 73.7 percent of forest loss occurs in 19 Asian elephant ranges, which amounted to nearly 50,000 square kilometers, the paper says.

Although 13 countries with Asian elephant habitats have formulated protection and restoration measures in the past few decades, the loss has not stopped, and has even become more serious in some countries.

The results show that China lost 285 square kilometers of forest habitat, accounting for only 0.4 percent of the total loss of forest habitat. The Indochina Peninsula was responsible for 53.3 percent (36,025 square kilometers) of the loss, and the Malay Archipelago accounted for 33.6 percent (22,724 square kilometers). The remaining 12.7 percent of forest loss occurred in the Indian Subcontinent.

Luo Lei, the first author of the paper, pointed out that this study also systematically assessed the driving factors of Asian elephant forest habitat loss.

The results show that 87 percent of the habitat loss is directly caused by logging activities and deforestation due to farmland and plantation expansion, with the remaining 13 percent of habitat loss and fragmentation due to mining, urban sprawl, and infrastructure development such as reservoirs, dams, roads, railways, and power lines.

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