Plan aims to help wild elephants
HAØ NOÄI The forests along the Vieät Nam-Laos border were once home to many wild elephants. But today, barely 100 remain.
A new plan recently signed by Deputy Prime Minister Hoaøng Trung Ha i aims to help the decimated population recover.
Under the VNÑ278 billion (US$13.3 million) plan, three conservation areas for wild elephants will be set up in Puø Ma t, Ca t Tieân and Yok Ñoân national parks and those who illegally hunt, transport or sell elephant meat or tusks will see stricter punishments.
The plan will also fund research on the animals reproductive cycle in an attempt to increase the population.
Although exact numbers are unknown, the Vieät Nam Administration of Forestry estimates that between 75 and 130 elephants remain in the country, scattered in the provinces of Ñoàng Nai, Haø T nh, Ngheä An, Qua ng Nam and Thanh Ho a as well as throughout the Central Highlands.
Professor Ñaëng Huy Huyønh, chairman of the Vieät Nam oological Society, praised the plan but emphasised the importance of involving local people.
It is imperative to issue policies to encourage ethnic minorities, including E eâ, Gia Rai and Mnong, who live in the Central Highlands region a major home of elephants to join hands to protect elephants, he said.
Because these people may know more about elephants than anyone does, he explained, their knowledge could help the plan succeed.
Huyønh also pointed out that since elephants habitats are about 20- 30 kilometres wide, much bigger than those of other wild species, conservation areas needed to be built on a large scale with plenty of food and suitable ecosystems.
The Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development will cooperate with relevant agencies to implement the plan, which will be funded by the State budget as well as international organisations and individuals.