Liv Baker and Rebecca Winkler, Asian elephant rescue, rehabilitation and rewilding


Removal from natural habitat and commodification as private property compromise elephants’ broader societal value. Although we support Baker & Winkler’s (2020) plea for a new community-based rewilding conservation model focused on mahout culture, we recommend an expanded co-management approach to complement and enhance the regional elephant conservation strategy with additional local community stakeholders and the potential to extend across international borders into suitable elephant habitat. Holistic co-management approaches improve human wellbeing and social cohesion, as well as elephant wellbeing, thereby better securing long-term survival of Asian elephants, environmental justice, and overall sustainability.

Author Biography

Antoinette van de Water is a PhD researcher, University of Kwazulu-Natal, Director of Bring the Elephant Home, and a Director of the Elephant Specialist Advisory Group of South Africa. Her research focuses on sustainable human-elephant coexistence strategies. Website

Michelle Henley is a Research Fellow at University of South Africa, Executive Director of Elephants Alive, member of AfESG, and a Director of Elephant Specialist Advisory Group of South Africa. Michelle studies the ecology of elephants, following their movements across international boundaries in southern Africa. Website

Lucy Bates, Research Fellow, University of Sussex, and a Director of the Elephant Specialist Advisory Group of South Africa, does research on the social behavior and cognitive skills of African elephants and how they affect elephant interactions with humans.Website

Rob Slotow, Professor, University of Kwazulu-Natal; Honorary Professor, University College London; and Co-Chair of AfESG, studies large mammal conservation, land-use planning for environmental sustainability, and environmental contribution to achieving sustainable development goals. Website