Wilstem adds Asian elephant, partnership

From Local Sources

FRENCH LICK — New this spring, Wilstem will add a female Asian elephant to its wildlife family and partner with the International Elephant Foundation.

The wildlife park will offer the opportunity to see both species of elephants, Asian and African, in a herd together.

The Asian elephant is classified as endangered with fewer than 50,000 left in the world. They are slightly smaller than the threatened African elephant which numbers about 400,000 to 500,000. The Asian elephant can be identified by its smaller ears, smoother skin, rounded back and only one finger-like tip at the end of its trunk.

The addition to Wilstem’s herd gives the park the chance to strengthen its mission of educating the public. Its encounters will give you the chance to learn about the different physical features of African and Asian elephants, as well as their different habits.

Wilstem offers a variety of opportunities to see and learn about these animals. A very limited number of guests can take part in a VIP Encounter, limited to 10 people, to spend one-on-one time with the herd and prepare their breakfast. Guests can also indulge in the elephants’ spa appointment by participating in bath time, pedicure and an educational encounter. Educational Encounters are also available and give you the chance to ask questions, take photos and touch the animals. Encounters take place daily March 7 through Nov. 1. Visit www.wilstem.com to learn more.

Wilstem is committed to the conservation of elephants and wildlife and has partnered with International Elephant Foundation in this endeavor. Wilstem has committed $40,000 to be used toward two separate projects aimed to keep elephants and other wildlife safe.

In Africa, Wilstem is supporting the recovery of Murchison Falls National Park in Uganda. Civil wars in the latter half of the 20th century decimated wildlife populations in Uganda and left Murchison Falls National Park with only a remnant population of elephants, giraffes, lions and hippos. Once considered the “Jewel of Africa”, Murchison Falls is now critically important to the recovery of Uganda’s wildlife.

The International Elephant Foundation has been supporting the revitalization of the park and protecting its wildlife from poachers through the construction of a veterinary response unit, three marine ranger stations and the construction of 10 strategically-important inland ranger stations. In 2020, the elephant foundation and Wilstem will construct ranger stations at two other camps.

In Asia, Wilstem is supporting the critically-endangered Sumatran elephant. On the Indonesian island of Sumatra, there has been an escalation of human-elephant conflict, along with an increase in the death of elephants due to conflict or poaching. The Conservation Response Unit program is an important step in the development of long-term strategy to conserve Sumatran wildlife.

The unit utilizes captive elephants, their mahouts and local community representatives for direct, successful, field-based conservation interventions. These units support the conservation of wild elephant habitats, and create opportunities for local communities to protect their property and crops, achieving positive outcomes for both elephants and people.

The various activities undertaken include developing barrier strategies, monitoring wild elephant movement, establishing an early warning system through the application of GPS collars, promoting human-elephant coexistence, and educating with awareness programs.

To learn more about the International Elephant Foundation, visit www.elephantconservation.org.

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