Vietnam strives to conserve elephants
Since 2012, August 12 has been recognised as World Elephant Day, which has become an opportunity for people to raise awareness about elephant protection and seek solutions to reduce conflicts between elephants and humans, as well as efforts to preserve the species in the wild.
Three species of elephants still exist: the African prairie elephant, the African forest elephant, and the Asian elephant. Vietnam is one of 13 countries where Asian elephants still live.
Apart from conservation regulations, the Government of Vietnam has action plans for conservation activities for each period.
A national action plan on elephant conservation in Vietnam for 2023-2032 with a vision for 2050 is being developed.
The recent efforts of State agencies have also received support from non-governmental organisations such as WWF, AAF and USAID.
Particularly, the Vietnam Administration of Forestry and Humane Society International (HSI) has provided support for a project on protecting Asian elephants in the southern province of Dong Nai through solutions to reduce and prevent human-elephant conflict sustainably.
The project is currently piloting a Population Monitoring Programme to identify individual elephants with the support of Dr Pruthu Fernando, President of the Sri Lanka Elephant Development Center and a member of IUCN's Asian Elephant Expert Group.
Tham Hong Phuong, Director of HSI in Vietnam, said: “We are working together with the Vietnam Administration of Forestry and other stakeholders so that the elephant population in Vietnam can self-recover and develop in nature."
HSI is working with the General Administration of Forestry to develop a National Action Plan on elephant conservation in Vietnam from 2023 through 2032 with a vision for 2050.
According to the summary report of the General Department of Forestry, the number of elephants in Vietnam has reduced by 95%, and the species is in danger of extinction without proper conservation plans.
In Dak Lak province alone, at least 23 wild elephants died in the period 2009-2016, accounting for about 25% of the total current herd, and in Dong Nai, about nine wild elephants died before 2014.
According to research by the Center for People and Nature (PanNature), in the 1990s, the number of wild elephants in Vietnam was about 1,500-2,000 individuals. However, at present, the country has less than 120 wild elephants.
The causes of the diminishing elephant herd lie in the shrinking habitat of the animals and the increasing illegal ivory trade and consumption in Vietnam and some Asian countries.
In Vietnam, 105.72 tonnes of ivory were seized from 2004 to April 2019.