VietNamNet Bridge – “The elephants arrive everyday and we have to report the damages caused by the elephants everyday. If the situation cannot be improved, the herd of 10 elephants here would disappear. Nine have died since 2007 in the sanctuary already,” said Nguyen Huu Dao, an official of the Phu Ly commune authorities in Dong Nai province.“Just in the first 12 days of April, elephants came 50 times and damaged the farm crops,” Dao said about the conflict between elephants and people.
Dang Van Nhon, a local resident in Phu Ly commune, told reporters that farmers have a bountiful crop of mango, but they are not happy, because the sale price has dropped dramatically to 2000 dong per kilo. Meanwhile, the orchards of mango have been devastated, making farmers miserable.
Pointing to the pile of mango plucked by elephants and then gathered by farmers, Nhon said: “Even the 5-6 year old mango trees have been easily damaged by the elephants. So many fruits have fallen which we have to throw away.”
Tens of mango trees in the mango field of Co Van Lam covering an area of one hectare were seen stricken by elephants. Some of the trees have withered, while some others remain green.
The same situation could be seen in many other mango, sugar cane and cassava fields of other farmers: trees have been rooted up. “As you can see, elephants do not eat cassavas, but they still damaged the trees. The sugar cane field looks very green, but they cannot grow up, because elephants have eaten all the spouts,” Nhon said.
Ngo Thi Hoa, a local resident, said that she has got 534 million dong from the provincial authorities as the support to farmers to repair the damage.
In principle, the local authorities would prop up money to help farmers repair the damages caused by the elephants. However, in most cases, the money is modest. “The real damage is about hundreds of millions of dong, while the State gave us 6 million dong only. We still do not know how we can arrange money to pay 200 million dong for fertilizer,” complained Dao Thi Hoang, the owner of the 2 hectares of mango field.
According to Dao, in the first six months of 2011, the Dong Nai provincial authorities had to spend 4 billion dong to help farmers make good the damages.
Offering sacrifices and driving away cannot help
Hoang said that local residents have been trying every means they can to drive the elephants away, but the methods have not brought the desired results.
“We offered sacrifices with eggs, meat, but the elephants still come. We can think of no more solutions,” Hoang complained.
Local residents in Phu Ly commune spread chemicals and poison around orchards and fields to drive elephants away. They also throw small gas tanks into elephants and fire tinder. They try plant protection chemicals for their orchards, which may kill the elephants eating the plants.
The conflict between people and elephants has reached the highest peak. Dao said that his quick reaction team has been trying to illuminate to elephants, but he fears this would not succeed for a long time.
“Elephants prove to be very clever. They know we just try to threaten them, while we cannot do anything. When I shouted at a male elephant, he turned round, looked at me and then continued walking, unhurriedly,” Dao said.