Dong Nai: Hungry wild elephants trash crops, property (Vietnam)


Vietnam Net Bridge

Date Published

Experts say the elephant requires a vast habitat but its living space
has been shrunk due to human encroachment into the forest. Local
foresters in Dong Nai say the natural habitat for wild Asian elephants
has shrunk from 50,000ha in the 1990s to 34,000ha in 2009.

Over the past few months, elephants have reportedly been approaching
households in Dinh Quan District to search for food, destroying their
crops and assets.

Nguyen Van Khoi, a farmer in Thanh Son Commune, said that in one night
more than 400 banana trees in his two-ha field were completely
destroyed by elephants. “All the bananas were going to be harvested
for sale but now everything is gone,” he lamented.

The 12 elephants also pulled down cashew trees and destroyed other
property, such as water tanks and water pipes, he added.

Another farmer, Do Van Dinh, from Thanh Son Commune, said six wild
elephants destroyed all three hectares of his garden, including 1,500
banana trees, 300 pepper trees and 20 jackfruit trees.

Deputy head of the district’s forest management department, Nguyen Van
Chieu, said wild elephants have been coming out of the forests to seek
food since early February, destroying crops of about 28 households.

Dry season

The elephants, in groups of 12 to 15, often came at night, between 9pm
to 3am, he said. But they have never threatened people, he added.

He explained that the southeastern region had entered the peak of the
dry season resulting in food shortage in the forest and pushing the
elephants to seek food at the edge of the forest.

The department is working with residents on measures to prevent the
elephants from damaging their crops and property by assigning people
to stand guard and blow a whistle or set fire to drive them away,
Chieu said.

At the same time, forest rangers disseminate information to raise
local residents’ awareness of the need to protect the elephants,
asking them not to use explosives, electric current or other measures
harmful to the animals, he said.

Only some 100 wild elephants remain in Viet Nam, with most living in
Dak Lak, Dong Nai and Nghe An provinces, according to the Ministry of
Agriculture and Rural Development’s Forest Management Department.

The Vietnamese Government has adopted policies aimed at preserving the
elephant herd, including a master plan for 2013-2020.

Last December, the World Wild Fund for Nature (WWF) and Vietnamese
nature authorities kicked off an emergency project to protect the
biggest herd of elephants in the country from extinction.

The project is being undertaken by WWF Vietnam and the Yok Don
National Park in Dak Lak Province, focusing on the enforcement of
environmental laws and mitigation of human and elephant conflicts.

The Ministry of Planning and Investment approved a VND74 billion
(US$3.28 million) budget in 2014 for a project on urgent protection of
wild elephants in Dong Nai Province.

The project, implemented in the natural forests of Vinh Cuu, Tan Phu
and Dinh Quan districts, focuses on assessing the elephant population,
its distribution and movements, while planning the expansion of their
habitat to provide sustainable natural living conditions.

It will also seek ways to avoid conflict between people and elephants
and increase communication efforts to raise public awareness of the
importance of protecting wild elephants.–hungry-wild-elephants-trash-crops–property.html