VietNamNet Bridge – The serious poaching which has not been eased over the last many years has led to the sharp fall of the number of elephant individuals in Vietnam, from 1500-2000 in 1990s to tens of elephants now.
Three years ago, FFI, an international flora and fauna conservation organization, gave the warning that the then 150 elephant individuals were in the danger of becoming extinct.
Though the poachers still cannot make elephants disappear absolutely from Vietnam, extinction is a foreseeable thing, if Vietnam cannot do more to protect its elephants.
In 2009, Frank Momberg, a representative of FFI, undertook the job of building an elephant training center right in the central province of Dak Lak, believed to be the main land for elephants in Vietnam. At that time, people kept optimistic about the project feasibility, believing that this would help much the wildlife conservation plan.
However, in September 2012, Mark McDonald, a conservationists, stated that the groups of conservationists all have “surrendered” in the fight to protect Vietnam’s elephants.
An elephant conservation center has been built in the National Park in Dak Lak province, becoming the residence place for a herd of 29 elephants. However, the small scale of the center and the limited sponsor fund do not allow the officers here prevent the poaching to protect the lives of elephants.
Two weeks ago, a couple of elephants were killed right in the forest belonging to the sanctuary. The officers here discovered the dead body of a male elephant with its head, heliotrope and tusks cut.
Forest rangers are now worried that the death of a male elephant would make it difficult for the elephants to maintain the race. Director of the Dak Lak National Park said the elephant poaching had been developing so rapidly. Six male elephants have been killed so far this year.
The strong economic development since early 1990s has led to the narrowing of the living environment for elephants. The forests, which were once their living areas, have been replaced by rice, coffee and rubber farms, or factories, water dams and roads. Meanwhile, the vast forests with precious wood have been chopped down for sale for money.
No one could protect Vietnam’s elephants?
Mark McDonald agreed with Momberg when saying that the local authorities, on one hand, make the decisions to protect elephants, but on the other hands, they do not care about their living environment.
In 2006, the government of Vietnam released an “urgent action plan” to protect elephants nationwide. However, the plan has not been implemented so far.
In 1993, the government of Vietnam decided to move 13 wild elephants in the southern region, which then turned into industrial farms, to other places. The result of the campaign was the death of an elephant, while the last elephant was carried to the Saigon zoo.
When elephants lose their familiar living environment and the food sources get exhausted, elephants, which are believed to be clever and close to humans, are facing the risk of extinction.
The narrowed living environment has prompted elephants to go out of forests to enter residential quarters, devastate rice fields and kill people. Local residents, in order to survive, have to protect themselves by creating deep trenches to use as traps and fight with elephants with self-modified instruments.
In related news, FFI has pointed out that the high demand for elephant tusks from China has worsened the elephant poaching all over the world.