|Elephants race across a river in Yok Don National Park in the Central Highlands province of Dak Lak. An elephant conservation project has been kicked off to combat the ivory trade. — VNA/VNS Photo Thanh Ha
HA NOI (VNS) — The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development has green-lighted an urgent project to bolster elephant conservation efforts and restrict ivory trading in Viet Nam by 2020.
The VND50 billion (over US$2 million) project aims to conserve small elephant herds and endangered species of fauna and flora found in the same habitat, the document said.
"The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will co-operate with relevant agencies such as the Viet Nam Administration of Forestry, the ministry's Nature Conservation Department, to implement the plan which will be funded from the State budget", said Ngo Le Tru, an official from the Nature Conservation Department.
The project will also target the illegal elephant trade and dealings in ivory and other parts of endangered animals. The project aims to mitigate the negative impacts of human activities on the elephant population.
The project will be rolled out in the Kon Tum, Lam Dong, Quang Nam, Ha Tinh, Binh Phuoc, Son La, and Quang Nam districts where wild elephants herds have been sighted.
Elephants in Lam Dong Province will be relocated to the Elephant Conservation Centre in Dak Lak Province or Yok Don National Park, while herds in Vu Quang National Park in central Ha Tinh Province will be shifted to Pu Mat National Park in Nghe An Province. The new locations are said to offer better habitats and management of the herds. In remaining provinces, authorities will carry out measures to improve living conditions for resident elephants and reduce contact between humans and elephants.
A new system cataloging elephant protection will also be set up, using research conducted in local animal habitats, the ministry said.
According to statistics from the Nature Conservation Department, around 70-130 wild elephants live in Viet Nam. They are mainly found along the borders of Viet Nam, Laos and Cambodia in the provinces of Dong Nai, Ha Tinh, Nghe An, Quang Nam, Thanh Hoa, Son La, and the central highlands.
"However, they are now dispersed across different herds, containing 4-6 individual elephants on average. This will likely put them at risk of extinction if no effective measures are put in place", Tru said. — VNS