Saturday , January 28 2023

New project a lifeline for Vietnam’s endangered elephants


The Animals Asia Foundation is helping protect endangered wild elephants in the central mountainous province of Dak Lak, home to Vietnam’s largest elephant population.

From there to here

A day in late December, Kham Phanh, a 44-year-old female elephant, freely enjoyed herself under the canopy of dipterocarp trees in Yok Don National Park.

She took a mud bath and then slowly walked into the forest to snack with another elephant.

It may seem like the easy life, but it wasn’t easy for Kham Phanh to get where she is now.

Kham Phanh elephant in Yok Don National Park as a forest ranger stands next to her, December 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

Kham Phanh elephant in Yok Don National Park as a forest ranger stands next to her, December 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

She used to be a domesticated elephant owned by the family of a local man named Y Guh Trey, better known as Ma Thanh, in Lak District of Dak Lak.

In 2006, when elephant ride tours were flourishing in the Central Highlands province, the family signed an agreement to let a local tourist firm lease Kham Phanh for five years for VND5 million (US$212) per month.

“That contract was one of my biggest mistakes,” Thanh said.

Abuse

He could have never imagined how badly people would treat his family’s elephant at the tourism site.

Kham Phanh and other elephants had their feet chained together at night so they couldn’t escape.

Every morning when tourists visited the site, elephants who refused to give them rides would be brutally beaten with sticks by their mahout (elephant keeper).

The elephants were either worked all day, or beaten.

Y Guh Trey said Kham Phanh even cried when he visited her.

An elephant rides two tourists at a tourism site in Dak Lak Province, November, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

An elephant rides two tourists at a tourism site in Dak Lak Province, November, 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

Once the contract ended, he took the elephant home and she helped his family haul crops like in the old days.

But as she grew older and weaker, he moved her to a forested area near his home. Kham Phanh then had to be chained so she couldn’t wander too far off. But at least the chain was long and loose and allowed her roam the area to forage for food.

But she is neither free nor safe from poachers.

How it started

Dak Lak used to be the kingdom of elephants in Vietnam.

In the period 1980s, the province had more than 500 elephants. But now only 140 are left.

They live mainly in Buon Don and Lak districts. Most are domesticated and there are only 37 left in the wild.

Huynh Trung Luan, former director of the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center, said the number of wild elephants in the province has decreased “alarmingly” due to human encroachment, which has destroyed their habitat and food sources.

And many of the domesticated elephants have been “overexploited” for tourism, he said.

Two elephants are chained under the rains at a tourism site in Buon Don District of Dak Lak Province in 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

Two elephants are chained under the rains at a tourism site in Buon Don District of Dak Lak Province in 2022. Photo by VnExpress/Tran Hoa

In 2016, the center coordinated with local mahouts in Buon Don and Lak districts to create space and conditions for elephants to mate. The bean regularly monitoring the large mammals and performing pregnancy tests

The province also launched a policy to grant VND650 million to elephant owners who could help their elephants give birth successfully. But the project failed because all the baby elephants died in their mothers’ wombs before being born.

In 2018, Yok Don National Park signed an agreement with Hong Kong-based animal welfare organization Animals Asia Foundation (AAF) to halt elephant ride tours and services.

The agreement said AAF would pay $65,000 for elephants to live freely in Yok Don Park’s 170,000 hectares.

After four years, six domesticated elephants were rescued from tourism sites. In return, mahouts and owners were paid sums of up to VND1 billion.

Now the project has presented a way out for Kham Phanh. Her owner submitted her to the park last November.

Visiting the elephant just recently, Y Guh Trey said he was very pleased to see how happy and free she is these days.

“It’s been more than a year but she still recognizes me as she keeps sniffing me from my head to toe with her trunk, and her ears constantly wave to show her joy,” he said.

In November, Dak Lak announced it would spend VND55 billion ($2.2 million) to help local tourism sites become more elephant-friendly and end all riding services.

The funding, drawn from the AAF, will also be given to centers that care for elephants. It will be disbursed from November this year to December of 2026.

The province will instead offer elephant-friendly tourism services in an effort to protect the animals. The funding will help make up for the loss of income among elephant owners and mahouts. And some of it will be invested in the development new elephant-friendly business models.

Read More :
- Reduce Hair Loss with PURA D’OR Gold Label Shampoo
- Castor Oil Has Made a “Huge” Difference With Hair and Brow Growth
- Excessive hair loss in men: Signs of illness that cannot be subjective
- Dịch Vụ SEO Website ở Los Angeles, CA: đưa trang web doanh nghiệp bạn lên top Google