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Preservation project comes too late for Vietnamese elephants

jeudi 3 juin 2010

Preservation project comes too late for Vietnamese elephants Earth Times News 02 Jun 2010

Hanoi - An "emergency action plan" to protect elephants announced in 2006 has yet to get off the ground, a Vietnamese provincial forest official said Wednesday.

In the meantime, seven of the 15 elephants in his province of Dong Nai have died, he said.

"I don’t understand why they are responding with the project so late," said Le Viet Dung, deputy director of the Dong Nai forest management department. "If they don’t do it quick, there will be no elephants to preserve."

Le Viet Dung said the latest elephant death in his province was a 2-year-old who died May 27, probably from eating crop leaves poisoned by pesticides.

The government’s elephant conservation programme was signed by Prime Minister Nguyen Tan Dung in May 2006.

It calls for provinces with elephant populations to designate protected habitats and implant the animals with microchips for monitoring. The projects must be finished by the end of 2010.

As of the end of 2009, Le Viet Dung said, all projects remained on paper.

The state-run newspaper Vietnam Agriculture reported Wednesday that the Dong Nai People’s Committee had clashed with the Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development over funding for its project.

The two sides agreed at the end of 2009 that the province would fund 20 per cent of the 1.2 million dollars, with the rest coming from the central government.

The preservation project is now intended to run through 2012.

Le Viet Dung said the elephant that died May 27 was the sixth since 2006 whose death was suspected to be caused by ingesting leaves tainted with pesticides. A seventh elephant drowned.

Government statistics show just 80 elephants left in the wild. The population is endangered by illegal hunting and deforestation.

Local media has reported several cases of elephants attacking humans in recent years, probably due to habitat loss.

In January, 10 elephants charged villagers in Ha Tinh province, without causing injuries. In July 2008, a herd of 40 elephants destroyed several houses in Dak Lak.

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