The European Parliament's Animal Welfare Intergroup has backed the call by North West Conservative MEP, Jacqueline Foster, for action to stop the illegal international trade in wild elephants and improve the welfare of those in captivity.
Following an invitation by Jacqueline, as Vice President of the Intergroup, Duncan McNair, Chief Executive Officer of Save The Asian Elephants ('STAE), met with members and presented evidence of neglect and mistreatment across the sub continent.
The numbers make grim reading: estimates of a million or more in the late 19th Century to scarcely 40,000 today. Around 30,000 of these exist in the wild (of which about 60% in India) while 10,000 are held in captivity - often in appalling conditions.
Dwindling numbers are also found in parts of Thailand, Myanmar, Malaysia, Indonesia, Nepal, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Laos, Cambodia, Vietnam and China. In some places, such as Java, the indigenous elephant population is now completely lost.
In October, Jacqueline tabled a Written Declaration on the Conservation and welfare of Asian Elephants, after discussions with Stanley Johnson, a member of the Executive Board at STAE, and colleague Geoffrey Van Orden MEP, Chairman of the EU-India Parliamentary Delegation.
The meeting between STAE and the Intergroup, followed the visit to the UK of Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi in November 2015, when both Mr Modi and David Cameron resolved to improve protection for both captive and wild Asian elephants
Jacqueline said: "The slaughter and mistreatment of these magnificent animals is a stain on the reputation of those countries which continue to turn a blind eye to the plight of the Asian Elephant.
"I appreciate the support of almost 100 colleagues for my Written Declaration as we seek to encourage change in parts of Asia. Duncan's presentation, and the work of the charity, demonstrates why action is needed. I look forward to hearing how the Commission now intends to act, alongside Member States."