(please note that this lecture is accompanied by an exhibition of abstract pictures painted by Asian elephants, altohugh not available to purchase on the night please contact Belinda Stewart Cox if you are interested in any of these pictures)
HK$100 members of the LRC and RGS HK HK$150 Non members, there is no pre booking or registration please buy tickets at the door
Cash bar from 6.30 pm lecture starts 7.30 pm
Belinda Stewart-Cox to lecture on "Saving Asia's Elephants ". In this lecture, Ms Stewart-Cox introduces the extra-ordinarily intelligent Asian elephant then focuses on her work saving the environment of the elephant, while reducing human-elephant conflict, principally in western Thailand.
Asian elephants are much rarer than their African counterparts. Barely 30,000 survive in the wild in thirteen countries, from India to Indonesia and few populations are secure. Asian elephants are the largest land animals in Asia and are very intelligent, with the cognitive abilities of the great apes. The more docile Asian elephant, unlike the African, has been widely domesticated for millenia, principally for forestry and ceremonial purposes, and more recently for tourism.
However, for the wild populations, the relentless expansion and ever greater demands of people in Asia mean that habitat loss, principally of forest lands, is a major threat to wild elephants in this region. Additional threats are trade, principally in calves and ivory, and human-elephant conflict. Human-elephant conflict has become an increasing problem in recent decades, including extensive damage to crops, with elephants entering villages to raid gardens, which has made societies who previously revered the elephant less sympathetic to its survival.
In Thailand, the most publicised form of human-elephant conflict is crop-raiding. For the last six years, Ms Stewart-Cox has focused on this issue, working with local villagers, forest rangers, community leaders and government officials to assist the wild elephants in west Thailand, in particular in the province of Kanchanaburi, near the River Kwai.
Asian elephants eat from 200-300 kgs of food a day, depending on their size and the nutritional quality of the food, need 100-150 litres of water a day and they do not voluntarily climb steep slopes. Thus the optimal land for them is level, well watered, fertile land, where they previously existed undisturbed, but exactly the kind of land that is favoured by farmers and developers. Since elephants follow traditional routes to food and water, and have superb memories, most crop-raiding occurs along these routes since many have now been de-forested for farm land. Other routes are now blocked, often by highly nutritious crops, which are much more attractive than low-calorie grass or leaves in neighbouring forests.
Ms Stewart-Cox's lecture tells the story of what the Elephant Conservation Network has done to assist Asia's elephants in their struggle to survive as their homelands shrink, while concluding with the difficult question of whether conflict can be changed into co-existence with mankind.
Belinda Stewart-Cox read zoology and anthropology at Oxford University and holds a MSc in Conservation & Tourism from the University of Kent. She is an expert conservation project manager and field researcher with special interests in human-wildlife conflict, ecotourism, community-based conservation and local NGO development, with 25-years experience of research, training, project planning and implementation in Asia mainly in Thailand. Since 2005 she has been the Executive Director of the Elephant Conservation Network, which is affiliated to Zoological Society of London. Belinda Stewart-Cox is the author of numerous articles on conservation, was the Series Co-ordinator for Time-Life Books' Peoples of the Wild series, has produced educational programmes for television and lectures widely. In 2011, she was awarded an OBE for her contribution to conservation in Thailand.