Elephants need forests to reproduce, not money

VietNamNet Bridge – “Instead of giving us money, please give us forests. We will help elephants reproduce,” said an elephant breeder in Dak Lak.

The elephant breeders in Dak Lak would receive 414 million dong in financial support from the state for every elephant who gives birth. However, they wish they can receive forests rather than money, because the forests, not money, would help elephants live their normal lives and reproduce.

On December 12, the Dak Lak provincial authorities released a decision stipulating some measures to conserve the elephants in the province. Under the decision, elephants would have free healthcare examination once a year by the experts.

Especially, the provincial authorities have decided to give financial support in an effort to develop elephants here. In the reproductive season, every elephant owner would receive 15-18 million dong. Meanwhile, the owner of the female elephant that gives birth would receive 414 million dong which would be used to take care for the elephant during the pregnancy, birth giving and breeding.

Each of mahout who takes care of a male elephant receives 6 million dong. Meanwhile, those who take care of female elephants would receive up to 168 million dong, because elephants’ pregnancy and birth giving duration lasts 28 months.

However, local residents say the financial support would not help elephants reproduce. The problem now is that male and female elephants have been bred separately and they don’t have the chances to meet each other. Meanwhile, the elephants have not been taken care well due to the bad conditions. Especially, some elephants have to work hard to serve their owners.

Ama Be, 70, an old man in Krong Na commune, recalled the days in the past, where the owners of female elephants would give buffalos to the owners of male elephants, once the female elephants got pregnant. Especially, the owners of female elephants would buy pigs to organize weddings for the elephants.

He said that nowadays, in order to help elephants reproduce, it is necessary to drop male and female elephants into forests for many months. Since elephants now have to work hard to serve tourists and bring money to their owners, while they do not have nutritious food and don’t have enough time to live with “girlfriends” in the forests, they cannot love each other and give birth.

Especially, the owners of female elephants nowadays don’t want their elephants to be close to male elephants, fearing that if their elephants get injured, they would not be able to work to bring money.

Meanwhile, elephants are believed to be very choosy about “lovers.” If a female elephant doesn’t like a male one, she would refuse to copulate with it, even if the male elephant flirts her for many weeks.

The information that every mahout gets 170 million dong has made people excited. However, Y Thanh Uong, a mahout in Ho Lak Lake tourist site said the living environment for elephants is getting worse; therefore, elephants are getting weaker.

Also according to Uong, local residents sometimes see elephants copulating, but the possibility of female elephant getting pregnant is very low.

A man said in fact, local residents have been trying to help elephants reproduce over the last many years. However, in the current conditions, with elephants being bred at home and lacking food, it is very difficult for them to reproduce.

“I believe that 400 million dong or even more would not help elephants reproduce. Instead of giving us money, please give us forests,” he said.

Thien Nhien

Vietnam, elephants, Dak Lak, travel, conservation, support