Nov 11, 2012

Vietnam - Strange things after the death of elephants

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VietNamNet Bridge - According to statistics from the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center, since 2009, at least 14 wild elephants died, including four adult elephants which were killed for their tusks and tail hairs, and 10 died of unknown causes. Besides, ten domestic elephants also died.

The brutal massacres

In late August 2012, two adult elephants were discovered dead by shooting at the same time at the Yok Don National Park, Dak Lak province.

Two elephants - one male, one female - lied dead about 5m from each other. Each animal, which weighed up to a ton, had many wounds on their bodies.

At the time they were found, the two elephants were in the process of decomposition. The male elephant’s body is not intact because hunters cut its head to take tusks. Its trunk was also cut off. Many other parts were also taken.

According to the Dak Lak Elephant Conservation Center, the elephants are members of a herd of 30 wild elephants in Yok Don National Park.

In March 2012, an adult male elephant of 2.4 m high, 4.3 m long and 1.5 - 2 tons in weight, also a member of the above elephant herd, was shot down in Ea Sup district. The elephant was discovered when it was in a state of decomposition. This elephant also lost its tusk, its tail, its trunk and its feet.

In August 2009, a male elephant weighing 5 tons was found dead in the forest of Ea Soup, Dak Lak. The police identified that it was killed for its tusks.

It is very strange that the culprits of all cases related to the death of wild elephants since 2009 have been "unknown.”

Not only wild elephants but also domestic elephants are attacked. Some of them survived but some were dead.

That was the case of a male elephant named Pak Ku, of Thanh Ha resort in Buon Don Village. On a rainy night in late October 2010, Pak Ku was chained in the forest. It was burnt and stabbed by someone, in order to take tusks and tail hairs.

The elephant escaped but it still died at the age of 30, after more than two months of fighting with over 200 stabs.

Elephants banned from “making love”

Statistics show a dramatic decline of tamed elephants in Dak Lak. If in 1980, there were 502 elephants, in 1990 the number dropped almost a half to 298. In 2000 the figure was just 96 and it is only 51 at present.

Not only fewer in number, tamed elephants are degraded in quality, as about 30% of them have become old.

In the last 20 years, tamed elephants in DakLak have not delivered even a single baby. This is easy to understand because they do not have the suitable environment or the time to “make love.”

Currently, the tamed elephants are mainly used to serve tourism. As they belong to different owners, male and female elephants do not have chance to meet. In other words, they are "forbidden from love."

About reproduction of elephants, the owners of male elephants usually do not benefit. They even have to pay compensation in case their elephants hurt female elephants during the copulating process. As a result, they are afraid of let their male elephants be together with female elephants of other people.

The herd of tamed elephants is rapid declining while the herd of forest elephants numbers only about 100 individuals. Meanwhile, hunting wild elephants for domestication has been prohibited for a very long time.

With just over 100 individuals, the wild elephants are being hunted, resulting in their restricted reproductively.

Of the 14 elephants that died from 2009, in addition to four adult elephants that were shot dead for tusks and tail hairs, the remaining elephants are small elephants. They died because of different reasons.

According to scientists, to develop stably, an elephant herd needs at least 50 individuals. In Dak Lak, there are about 10 flocks of forest elephants but the biggest herds have less than 30 individuals.

Along with that, the natural environment for elephants is being narrowed while the sources of food are becoming scarce. Elephants have to go to residential areas to search food, causing the conflicts between elephants and humans. This fact makes both wild elephants in Dak Lak and the local people face many dangers.

In the current situation of conservation, Dak Lak elephants are put in a state of alert and this makes people doubt that one day, the Central Highlands will be absent of elephants.

Yen Thanh

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