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Project to protect Việt Nam elephants kicks off

Update: December, 14/2016 - 20:00
An elephant in the Yok Don National Park. VNS Photo Phạm Đức Huy
Viet Nam News

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

The project, which is being undertaken by WWF Việt Nam and the Yok Don National Park in Đắk Lắk Province, will focus on the enforcement of environmental law and mitigation of human and elephant conflicts.

The mitigation job is developed on the basic elephants’ custom of seasonal movement and tasks to improve livelihood for local residents in the Central Highlands.

Under the project, training courses for forest rangers on the topic of law enforcement as well as skill for investigating habitat sites will be open for the ranger divisions in the region. WWF Việt Nam will support the task of photo traps to monitor the elephants.

The Yok Don Park will be equipped with a system of spatial monitoring and reporting tools called SMART, which have proved its effectiveness following pilot use for monitoring the rare creature saola in central Thừa Thiên- Huế and Quảng Nam provinces.

Central Highlands is home to the biggest herd of elephants in the country, accounting for 70 per cent of national elephant population. The protection of this region’s elephant herd is significant to the preservation of Asian elephants in Việt Nam.

According to the park’s director Đỗ Quang Tùng, the park is a hotspot for encroachment activities and its topography allows easy access from the park’s four sides.

A report by WWF Việt Nam said the elephant is a species that requires a vast habitat area but its living space and moving corridors have been narrowed due to human encroachment into the forest.

General Department of Forestry’s figures showed that in the last 40 years, from 1975 to 2015, the population of Asian elephants in Việt Nam has decreased by 95 per cent. In Đắk Lắk, a total of 23 elephants were killed for souvenir items such as tusks, tail hair, and foot, which are sold illegally in the province.

Experts said this was the last chance to protect the elephants before the pachyderm faces a painful extinction in Việt Nam much like the Java rhino. — VNS


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