DAK LAK (VNS) — An Asian elephant (elephas maximus) was found dead in a private forestry company's forest in Cu A Mung commune in the Central Highlands province's Ea H'leo district last week.
Director of the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Centre Huynh Trung Luan confirmed to Viet Nam News yesterday the one-year-old elephant was killed by its herd during their movement for food in the forest.
"We identified the cause of death of the elephant as being trampling by adult elephants. The male baby elephant was too weak to follow its herd of 30 adult elephants during a mass annual movement for food," Luan said.
Do Viet Thu, a biologist at the centre, said the elephant was found with its skin peeled off in sections, and toenails and tail cut off.
He said local residents would take some of the organs of the dead elephant.
Luan said logging by private companies in the forest has caused conflicts between humans and animals in recent years.
"Human activities have encroached upon large areas of elephants, which were sources of food for the animals. It explains why elephants destroy farms in forests that are managed by private companies or local residents," Luan told Viet Nam News in a phone interview.
An expert from World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Viet Nam, who did not want to be identified, said four Asian elephant herds, comprising 60 or 70 elephants, lived in the provincial Yok Don National Park.
He said several elephants had been found dead in large forest areas managed by five forestry companies in the last three years.
Some of them had been given poisoned food by local residents.
The expert said logging and human activities in forests at Yok Don National Park have threatened the existence of the Asian elephants.
He said poor equipment and investment for the examination and tracking of the elephant herds in the park would reduce the numbers of the wild animal.
The director of the centre said the province has allocated VND10 billion (US$476,000) to build a rescue centre for elephants on an area of 200ha in the park.
"It's still a modest amount for the prolonged conservation of elephant herds in the park. However, we hope to raise more funds from different sources every year," Luan said.
As scheduled, WWF-Viet Nam has given top priority to the Asian elephant conservation programme in the 2016-20 period in Viet Nam.
WWF-Viet Nam will jointly work with the General Department of Forestry in building a cross-border management project of biodiversity, nature and conservation of the Asian elephant and tiger between Dak Lak and Mondulkiri in Cambodia.
Two elephants were brought to the centre after they were rescued from traps in the forest in Ea H'Leo district in the last three years. — VNS