|Elephants at the Pu Mat National Park in the central province of Nghe An. Many elephant herds in the province are now finding it difficult to find enough food to survive. — Photo: baonghean.vn|
Last October, six wild elephants went on a rampage in a commune village and destroyed family crops.
The family called neighbours for help to chase the elephants away. However, the wild beasts refused to go until they had destroyed two hectares of acacias and other trees.
A resident, Luong Van Tinh from Veu 3 Village, said that elephants once arrived the commune at about 2am and refused to leave even though people tried all means to make them go away.
In 2014, several elephants arrived when people were celebrating Tet (Lunar New Year) festival.
“The elephants were so aggressive. They appeared to be looking for something to destroy. They even wrecked the kitchen of one family before running off,” Tinh said.
In 2011, elephants, killed one man and destroyed many tents. In a similar case in 2013, one person died and four people were injured.
“We are so worried about unwelcome visits from wild elephants,” Tinh said.
Other localities in Nghe An province have also reported the angry behavious of many wild elephants in places such as Bac Son Commune in Quy Hop District, Thanh Duc Commune in Thanh Chuong District, the communes of Mon Son, Luc Da, Chi Khe, Yen Khe in Con Cuong District and Xa Luong Commune in Tuong Duong District.
It is reported that there are only about 13 to 15 wild elephants in the province. They are in two herds, one living in Khe Thoi in the core of Pu Mat National Park while the other lives in a park buffer zone belonging to Phuc Son Commune.
Tran Xuan Cuong, director of Pu Mat National Park said that the park was one of three elephant conservation centres in Vietnam. The others were in the in Central Highland province of Dak Lak and the southern province of Dong Nai.
Previously, there used to be about 1,500ha of bamboo forest providing food to the elephants but now, bamboo has been replaced by industrial trees.
“As elephants’ feeding places shrink, they are forced to go to residential or farming areas to search for food,” Cuong said.
“In 2010, an elephant was shot to dead in a forest in Phuc Son Commune, so now there are only six elephants in the herd – probably not enough for them to breed and survive.”
In 2013, Nghe An Province People’s Committee approved a project worth VND86 billion (US$3.87 million) to try and save the few remaining elephants.
Under the project, elephant habitat is supposed to be protected to ensure viable living conditions and sustainable development for wild elephants.
The move was also aimed at curbing the conflicts between elephants and people, at least preventing the intrusion of elephants on residential or farming areas.
As a part of the project, a 5-km-long trench was planned to be built in Veu 1 and Veu 2 villages in Phuc Son Commune to separate elephant territory from residential areas.
Lack of funding is blamed for lack of progress in digging the trench and carrying out other important work, such as the restoration of 250-ha habitat for elephants, Sai Gon Giai Phong (Liberated Sai Gon) newspaper reported.
Nguyen Van Trang, chairman of Phuc Son Commune People’s Committee said that villagers were still worried about visits from elephants.
He admitted he had reservations about building a trench because it would limit the elephants too much and they would be forced to go to other areas looking for food.