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Nation’s elephants under threat (Vietnam)

mardi 4 octobre 2011

HA NOI — With the death of a large number of tame elephants recently concerns have risen regarding the threat of extinction in the absence of measures to safeguard the animals.

Dan Nang Long, an elephant keeper from Central Highland Dak Lak Province, had one of his elephants killed and three others injured in a poaching attack.

Long said that while he had reported the incident to local police, very little existed in terms of concrete evidence in confirming the crime.

"I believe my elephant was killed," he said, "but the police have not been able to apprehend the perpetrators."

During the incident, three of the four animals almost had their tails severed in the belief that elephant hair brought luck to those who wear it as jewellery, particularly as rings.

Determined, Long has subsequently been successful in helping detect and bring to justice a ring of poachers specialising in elephant tails.

According to historian Duong Trung Quoc, Viet Nam had over 500 wild elephants in 1985, but the numbers have since dropped to only 52.

Long expressed his concern regarding extinction due to the animals having little opportunity to reproduce while the taming of wild elephants has been prohibited.

The breeder, alongside Quoc, recently attended a workshop held in Ha Noi where participants shared their views on preserving Viet Nam’s remaining elephants.

Journalist Do Doan Hoang said that elephant poachers were usually only sentenced as minor thieves while local breeders were solely responsible for detecting culprits.

"These are only a few of the shortcomings hampering the protection of elephants," he noted.

Quoc said that tame elephants were currently being over exploited in helping locals farm as well as transporting their goods and tourists while lacking habitats in which to flourish.

He added that, to date, only wild elephants had received effective support from international organisations, leaving the tame ones in the lurch.

Similar to his fellow breeders, Long confirmed that the State had offered very little in support in protecting elephants, necessitating locals to depend on each other in raising, treating disease and protecting their animals from poachers.

In an attempt to step up efforts in protecting elephants, Dak Lak’s provincial authorities have decided to set up a conservation centre tasked with increasing the number of tame elephants through artificial insemination inside the safety of a new 200-ha habitat.

However, an anonymous official from the provincial Agriculture and Rural Development Department said that such a centre would not be enough and that the Government should again allow the taming of wild animals to boost numbers.

Besides such a step, the State should also support elephant owners financially during peak breeding periods.

Quoc added his support to such suggestions, saying that domestication was a sure measure of protecting elephants.

He explained that Viet Nam could protect its elephants if the Government was willing to allow wild animals to be tamed in conformity with international law.

Viet Nam News

October 4, 2011

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