A survey conducted under the framework of the elephant conservation project. Vietnam now only has 60 domesticated and over 100 wild elephants. Mostly in the provinces of Dak Lak, Dong Nai and Nghe An.
According to a conference heard on Monday, the central province of Nghe An will spend 818,000 USD (19 billion VND) on elephant conservation by 2025. At the conference, Mr. Dinh Viet Hong – Vice chairman of People’s Committee of Nghe An Province requested Pu Mat National Park complete a conservation plan for the 2020- 2025 period and submit it to the provincial authority for approval.
Mr. Cao Chi Cong from the Forestry General Directorate said that the elephant population in VietNam is facing a risk of going extinct. Wild elephants are being hunted for tusks. There are very few male and baby elephants left. In some elephant populations, there is no adult male elephant.
In the past, illegal hunters only targeted male elephants for tusks. But now, since elephant skin, foot soles, teeth, bones and meat can be sold for money, they have tried to kill female elephants as well. Meanwhile, the habitat for elephants has become smaller, which has caused biological behavior disorder and affected their reproductive capability.
The human-elephant conflict has become increasingly violent because of deforestation. People have been appropriating forestland, leaving smaller land areas for elephants to live. According to the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center, in 2016 alone, four wild elephants were killed, while there were 25 cases of human-elephant conflicts.
Infrastructure items and tens of hectares of crops were damaged because of the conflicts, so Relevant agencies were asked to consider allocating funds to support people whose crops were damaged by wild elephants, as well as for the task force established to protect the elephants. Localities must also educate residents to reduce conflicts with elephants that could lead to hunting.
According to the VietNam Administration of Forestry, the elephant population totalled just 100 to 130 individuals last year. The species is listed by the VietNam Red Book, meaning it is a priority for urgent protection. There are only about 13 elephants in Nghe An Province, located in Pu Mat National Park and the buffer zone of Pu Huong Nature Reserve now.
Faced with the possibility of total extinction, the government of Vietnam has developed The National Elephant Action Plan to be overseen by the Forest Protection Department. The plan allows for the creation of elephant protection areas in Dak Lak, Dong Nai and Nghe An provinces; the three areas with the largest populations of elephants. The habitats will be examined to create the optimal conditions for the elephants’ long term survival and a system of electric fences and trenches will be put in place in an effort to reduce elephant-human conflict.
Any other areas containing wild elephants will be studied to ascertain suitability and if it is decided that the population is unviable, relocation will be considered.
Participants at the conference agreed that despite the encouraging results, stricter measures should be adopted to protect the elephants from extinction. They also suggested compensation should be given to people whose crops were destroyed by elephants and allowances should be provided to those involved in the conservation work.