Declining forested land triggers elephant conflict

The continual erosion of forested land by local people has narrowed the living space for elephants in Dong Nai Province, leading to more conflict. In addition, the province’s elephant conservation project has still proceeded at a very slow pace.



 

The continual erosion of forested land by local people has narrowed the living space for elephants in Dong Nai Province, leading to more conflict



Between 2009 and 2011, up to nine elephants died in the southern province of Dong Nai, which were initially suspected of being killed by people.


Recently, the only elephant in Tan Phu protective forest was also killed.

According to the forest management board, for many years, the elephants have destroyed sugarcane and crops grown by people.

Conservationists warned that if more elephants continue to be killed, the species faces extinction in Dong Nai.

Local people often use traditional methods to drive elephants away such as setting fire on cloths soaked with petrol or throwing small gas tank into them to cause explosions. However, these actions have made elephants more aggressive, which results in more conflicts with people.

There are many cases in Dong Nai in which people were attacked and killed by elephants.

To prevent the elephants, Dong Nai Culture and Nature Reserve have  set up 20 metre-high watch towers. When elephants appear, people at the towers use horns and electric lamps to drive them away.

Meanwhile, Vinh Cuu and Dinh Quan districts have established a special task force to control elephants.

Sluggish elephant conservation project

In 2006, Dong Nai submitted an elephant conversation project to the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development. But, it wasn’t until May 2013 that the project was approved due to lack of investment capital. The project was slated to cost VND74 million (USD3.5 million), with the majority sourcing from the state budget, while the remainder from the province.

Until now, the project has been moving at a snail’s pace, while the site clearance still yet to be finished. Nguyen Van Dung, deputy head from the provincial Nature Conservation Board said this kind of work remains new in Vietnam. So, it would take more time for the selection of technologies and equipment.

A new fence is 10 metres high and 50 kilometres long, running Ma Da and Phu Ly communes in Vinh Cuu in Vinh Cuu District and Thanh Son Commune in Dinh Quan District.


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